Brief Fact Summary. Three grandchildren of the decedent contest decedent’s will based on the allegation of undue influence. The trial court found undue influence on the part of the proponent, decedent’s son, and set aside the will.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The test of undue influence is whether such control was exercised over the mind of the testatrix as to overcome her free agency and free will and to substitute the will of another so as to cause the testatrix to do what she would not otherwise have done but for such control.
The test of undue influence is whether such control was exercised over the mind of the testator as to overcome his free agency and free will and to substitute the will of another so as to cause the testator to do what he would not otherwise have done but for such control.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether there is any evidence of undue influence?
Held. No. The cause is reversed and rendered for defendants.
Here the will and the circumstances may raise suspicion, but does not give proof of the vital facts of undue influence. All of the evidence reflected that decedent was of sound mind, strong will, and in excellent physical condition. Additionally, subsequent to the execution of the will decedent told three disinterested witnesses what she had done with her property in her will as well as the reason for it.
Decedent’s will did make an unnatural disposition of her property in the sense that it did prefer her two children over the grandchildren by a deceased son. However, the decedent had the right to do as she did and the record contains an explanation from the decedent herself as to why she chose to do such.
Discussion. A person of sound mind has the legal right to dispose of his property as he wishes, with the burden on those attacking the disposition to prove that it was the product of undue influence.