Losing a loved one is devastating, but what is more overwhelming is learning that, in their last moments, someone pressured them into making changes that they usually wouldn't to their last will. When this happens, you end up in a dilemma where you are not sure whether to leave things be in the interest of peace, or to fight for the rights of those who have been swindled off what is rightfully theirs. Here are some pointers on how to handle a land dispute resulting from undue pressure on the person who made the will.
What is considered an undue influence?
To figure out whether you have a case with the courts, you need to understand the circumstances that are legally considered undue influence. If the will left out close family members and dependants with no obvious explanation, you have the right to suspect that some form of manipulation took place. Secondly, if the will maker was dependent and trusted the person who exerted the influence, it is a reason to suspect them of foul play. Thirdly, if the will maker was ill or frail, you could argue they were susceptible to undue influence.
Proving that the influencer substituted their will for that of the will-maker
The tough part is determining that indeed there was undue influence in the making of the last will. For instance, if a cousin of yours used to call your dad to tell him negative things about you, and your dad left some land for that cousin in his last will, that may not be enough evidence for undue influence. However, if said cousin moved in with your dad, who was suffering from some level of mental confusion, and the cousin convinced your dad to get a different lawyer and change the will, then, you may have a good case.
Resolving land disputes
The first step is usually to contest the last will in a court of law. Once you have won the case, there are several ways out. First, the court could put an earlier will in place of the disregarded one. If there is no older will, state laws will be used to redistribute the property to all beneficiaries.
You need the presence and guidance of attorneys to deal with wills disputes over land. When you have contested and won the case, conveyancing experts will look at the land and determine new boundaries.