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An illicit relationship is not sufficient per se to warrant a conclusion of undue influence. And no presumption of undue influence arises merely from the fact that a man makes a will in favor of his mistress.
The decedent died in the hospital, leaving all of his assets to his fiancée. The will was prepared while the decedent was on his deathbed, with the assistance of the fiancée. The brothers of the decedent filed a will contest action and prevailed in a jury trial, the jury having found that the fiancée exerted undue influence. The appellate court affirmed and the fiancée sought further review.
Did the records show that the fiancée had used undue influence on the decedent to make the will as it was made?
The court found absolutely no evidence in the record that supported a finding of undue influence. The court found that a confidential relationship was required to raise the presumption of undue influence. An illicit affair was not sufficient to establish such a confidential relationship. Further, in order to prove undue influence of the kind required to invalidate a will, the influence must not only have been shown to have been exercised by one in a confidential relationship, but also must have been shown to have been present at the time of the execution of the will. There was no evidence that the fiancée had any influence at the time of the execution of the will. Thus, the appellate court's order was vacated, the trial court was reversed, and the will was ordered admitted into probate.