Can a Testator Be Unduly Influenced When They Are Incompetent?

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. a New Jersey Will Contest Attorney

A basis for a “will contest” in New Jersey can be that the testator lacked testamentary capacity and was unduly influenced. If a Judge finds there to be an irreconcilable conflict, the court will reverse the will in probate and invalidate it.

In general, undue influence presumes that the testator (person who created the will) has testamentary capacity. Ruling that there was no irreconcilable conflict, the court noted that the Supreme Court of New Jersey has recognized that a finding of undue influence implies the existence of a sound mind. However, no court has held that a finding of undue influence requires the existence of sound mind. In fact weakness of mind and body, whether produced by infirmities of age or by disease or otherwise, may be considered as a material circumstance in determining whether or not a person was in a condition to be susceptible to undue influence. The court stated that in order to be an irreconcilable conflict, one of the judge’s answers would require a verdict for the contestant and the other would require a verdict for the proponent. Since both of these findings by the court would require a verdict for the contestant’s, there was no irreconcilable conflict.

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