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Undue Influence/Lack of Capacity Attorney in Kansas City, Missouri

When someone in the family dies, those left behind may feel a tremendous amount of pain and immense sorrow. Soon after the death, you may discover that the deceased’s will was written not the way the deceased would have wanted.  

How is this possible?” you might be wondering. When you know what your loved one’s wishes were but their will doesn’t reflect those wishes (e.g., someone new appears in the document as a beneficiary), it could mean one of these two things: undue influence or lack of capacity.  

Either way, it may be possible to contest the last will and testament and challenge its validity. However, doing so is anything but easy, which is why you may need legal counsel to ensure that your loved one’s true wishes are followed and that you and other family members get a fair share of the estate.  

At The Probate Law Center, we have years of probate litigation experience. Our undue influence/lack of capacity attorney in Kansas City, Missouri, represents those who wish to contest a will on the aforementioned grounds and those who need defense against others’ legal claims.  

Writing a Will and Testamentary Capacity: What Is Lack of Capacity?

A will cannot be valid if the person creating the document–known as the testator–doesn’t have testamentary capacity. In a nutshell, testamentary capacity is the testator’s ability to understand what they’re doing and the ability to make well-informed decisions. If the person lacks this capacity, they may end up making decisions that don’t reflect their true intentions. That is why probate courts take “lack of capacity” claims seriously and may invalidate a will if the claimant can prove the testator had no testamentary capacity to create the document.  

However, demonstrating a lack of capacity is no easy task. This is particularly true when a person experiences mental decline after periods of lucidity. When trying to contest a will on the ground that the testator lacked testamentary capacity, the burden of proof is on the contesting party.  

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Typically, courts consider the following types of evidence when determining a person’s mental capabilities at the time of writing a will:  

  • The existence of documented medical diagnosis of a mental condition that shows a lack of testamentary capacity (e.g., dementia); and 

  • Witness statements of people who can provide their observations regarding the person’s mental state at a particular time.  

If you know that your loved one didn’t have testamentary capacity but don’t know what kind of evidence you need to prove it, consider contacting an attorney. At The Probate Law Center, we know what an emotional time this is for you, which is why our Kansas City undue influence/lack of capacity attorney is here to help you gather the necessary evidence to prove your claim, assert your rights, and ensure your loved one's legacy is upheld. 

What Is Undue Influence?

Another critical requirement of writing a will is that the testator must be free from manipulation, coercion, intimidation, and other forms of undue influence when creating the document. Undue influence occurs when someone–be it another family member or a third party–exerts control over the testator to make them add or alter certain provisions in a will to gain a financial benefit. 

However, proving undue influence is difficult because you will need to show that the testator was victimized by the influencer and that the terms of the will do not reflect the testator’s true wishes. Common examples of undue influence include:  

  • Adult children manipulating their elderly parents into giving them a larger share;  

  • A new spouse threatening their spouse to leave more of their assets to them while leaving fewer assets for other heirs, including the spouse’s children from previous marriages; and 

  • Caregivers or service providers who use their positions to gain financial benefit from the elderly or ill person.  

When contesting a will on the ground of undue influence, you will have the burden to prove the following elements: 

  1. The testator’s vulnerability at the time of writing the document;  

  1. The alleged influencer’s authority in the testator’s life;  

  1. The influencer’s specific actions or inaction that altered the terms of the will; and 

  1. The resulting inequity (e.g., the influencer gained a larger share of the estate).  

Some of the most compelling pieces of evidence that can be used to demonstrate undue influence include: 

  • Statements from witnesses, including other family members, neighbors, service providers, and friends; and 

  • Digital communications between the testator and the influencer (emails, text messages, social media posts, DMs, etc.).  

If you can convince the court that your deceased loved one was influenced in a manipulative way when writing a will, the court will invalidate the will and throw it out. Do you think someone influenced your loved one to write a will in a certain way, but you aren’t sure if it meets the definition of “undue influence”? Get in touch with our Missouri undue influence/lack of capacity attorney to discuss the facts of your case.  

Undue Influence/Lack of Capacity Attorney in Kansas City, Missouri

Whether you suspect undue influence or lack of capacity in your loved one’s will, this is a serious matter that may require the assistance of an experienced attorney at The Probate Law Center. From our office in Kansas City, Missouri, we have handled lack of capacity, undue influence, and other probate litigation matters for clients throughout Overland Park, Independence, Lee's Summit, and Kansas City, Kansas.  

We are here to give you honest answers to your questions and provide you with the guidance you need to resolve concerns about the validity of a will. Unlike other law firms, we aren’t afraid of going to court. And when we do, we are aggressive and passionate to fight for our clients’ interests. Give us a call today to request your consultation.