How Undue Influence Can Invalidate a Will

In our area of practice, we have seen time and time again, instances of elder abuse, coercion, and persuasion by toxic people influence the true desires of one’s will or trust. This influence goes against what a loved one believed they wanted with their property after their death and takes the rights away from the elder and their family. In this instance, a probate judge may find that a deceased person’s will or trust is invalid because it was a product of undue influence. Welfare & Institutions Code §15610.70 states that “undue influence” means excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person’s free will and results in inequity.

In determining whether a result was produced by undue influence, the court must consider all of the following:


a. The vulnerability of the victim. Evidence of vulnerability may include, but is not limited to, incapacity, illness, disability, injury, age, education, impaired cognitive function, emotional distress, isolation, or dependency, and whether the influencer knew or should have known of the alleged victim’s vulnerability.


b. The influencer’s apparent authority. Evidence of apparent authority may include, but is not limited to, status as a fiduciary, family member, care provider, health care professional, legal professional, spiritual adviser, expert, or other qualification.


c. The actions or tactics used by the influencer. Evidence of actions or tactics used may include, but is not limited to, all of the following: (A) Controlling necessaries of life, medication, the victim’s interactions with others, access to information, or sleep; (B) Use of affection, intimidation, or coercion; (C) Initiation of changes in personal or property rights, use of haste or secrecy in effecting those changes, effecting changes at inappropriate times and places, and claims of expertise in effecting changes.


d. The equity of the result. Evidence of the equity of the result may include, but is not limited to, the economic consequences to the victim, any divergence from the victim’s prior intent or course of conduct or dealing, the relationship of the value conveyed to the value of any services or consideration received or the appropriateness of the change in light of the length and nature of the relationship.


The attorneys at Gokal Law Group are experienced in prosecuting claims of undue influence and financial elder abuse. Protecting the rights of your loved ones is important to us, and we will stop at nothing to ensure their rights and best interests are always put first. If you have concerns that undue influence has invalidated your loved one’s true intentions, and their will or trust no longer reflects their desires, give us a call at or contact us to discuss your options.

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