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New York & North Carolina

Elements of Undue Influence in New York

Parisi, Coan & Saccocio, PLLC

What is Undue Influence?

Undue influence occurs when someone takes advantage of a deceased person to create a will that benefits them unfairly. To contest a will in New York on these grounds, three elements must be proven: motive, opportunity, and the actual exercise of undue influence.

Elements of Undue Influence


Motive often involves a financial benefit to the undue influencer. This can be shown by examining the size of the deceased’s estate and what the undue influencer stands to inherit. For more insight, refer to the article on MarketWatch, "‘His wife is manipulative’: My father married a woman, 60, with no money, then changed his will. How can I preserve my inheritance?".


Opportunity arises when the deceased was dependent on the influencer. This could be due to conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression, cognitive disorders, or physical disabilities. A typical example is a confidential relationship, such as between the deceased and their accountant, lawyer, caretaker, or relative.

Actual Exercise of Undue Influence

Proving undue influence is challenging because the will's creator cannot testify. Evidence must show that the undue influencer was involved in preparing or executing the will. Testimonies from those who knew the deceased well, like healthcare providers, family members, attorneys, or other trusted advisers, are crucial.

Confidential Relationships and Burden of Proof

The person contesting the will must prove undue influence. However, if a confidential relationship is established, the burden shifts to the influencer to prove they did not exert undue influence. This shift is a critical aspect of these cases.

Seeking Legal Guidance

Parisi, Coan & Saccocio, PLLC Trusts & Estates Attorneys have extensive experience with New York estate laws. Our expertise ensures strong representation in these matters. For legal guidance on your case, contact us today.