Undue influence is a legal claim which may be used to void and invalidate a will, trust or other legal document. It occurs when an influencer substitutes his or her will for that of the party executing the estate document. As of this writing, the jury instruction regarding undue is more severe and is phrased as the influencer “destroying” the free choice of the party executing the estate document.
There are no set elements in a claim for undue influence. Rather, there are numerous factors to consider. There is a presumption or showing of undue influence sufficient for a jury to consider the claim if the influencer (1) has a confidential relationship with the subject of the undue influence, (2) the influencer takes steps to actively procure the document and (3) the influencer substantially benefits financially from the document.
Interestingly, there is a separate, statutory presumption for undue influence for health care providers. Section 197.480, RSMo states:
“There shall be a rebuttable presumption of undue influence for any transfer of assets or bequest or devise to the benefit of any in-home health care provider who is not related to the grantor within the third degree of consanguinity. Such presumption shall not apply to reasonable payments for services rendered nor to transfers of less than five percent of the assets of the grantor.”