Brief Fact Summary. Laverne Krida and Mattie Ruth Reeves, defendants, were the sole beneficiaries in Nancy Porch Hooper’s will. The defendants were employed to provide care around the clock care for the Hooper. The trial court set aside a deed and a will on grounds of fraud and undue influence finding that the defendants made misrepresentation to Hooper and controlled her access to legal and financial professionals.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A presumption of undue influence and fraud is raised where the testator is in a confidential relationship with individuals who make false statements on which the testator relies when creating his will.
Issue. Whether a presumption of fraud and undue influence is raised where the testator is in a confidential relationship with people who involuntarily isolate the testator and make misrepresentations on which the testator relied in making her will?
Held. Yes. There is sufficient evidence here to support a finding of fraud and undue influence because the defendants, standing to benefit from the will, had exclusive access to the testator and control over her physical person. Furthermore, the defendants were in a confidential relationship with the testator because they were employed as nurses to provide the testator with around the clock care and one of them was her attorney-n-fact. These facts together with evidence showing the defendants told false statements which they were aware would cause the testator to exclude her family from the will.
Discussion. A court will hold that there is sufficient evidence to support a finding of fraud and undue influence where the defendants controlled the testator’s physical person and told her lies which they knew would cause her to exclude certain persons from her will.