Wills, Trusts, and Estates

Voluntary


A will must be made voluntarily.

Capacity

[T]he testator . . . must be capable of knowing and understanding in a general way:

  1. the nature and extent of his or her property,
  2. the natural objects of his or her bounty, and
  3. the disposition that he or she is making of that property, and must also be capable of
  4. relating these elements to one another and forming an orderly desire regarding the disposition of the property.

He does not have to actually know these things, only be capable of knowing them.

Making a lifetime gift requires more capacity than making a will, and making a will requires more capacity than getting married.

Insane Delusion

An insane delusion is a false conception of reality.

A person who drafts his will based on an insane delusion may have sufficient capacity to understand how to dispose of his property but will still be barred from doing.

Undue Influence

Undue influence prevents a will from being voluntary when:

  1. The donor was susceptible to undue influence
  2. The alleged rongdoer had an opportunity to exert undue influence R3P § 8.3

The burden to show undue influence is on the person who contests the will.

  • Although the burden may be given to the proponent of the will if he was a fiduciary of the decedent.
Duress

A donative transfer is procured by duress if the wrongdoer threatened to perform or did perform a wrongful act that coerced the donor into making a donative transfer that the donor would not otherwise have made.

Fraud

A donative transfer is procured by fraud if the wrongdoer knowingly or recklessly made a false representation to the donor about a material fact that was intended to and did lead the donor ot make a donative transfer that the donor would not otherwise have made.

Fraud can either be in the execution of the will, where misrepresents the character or contents of the will, or in the inducement of the will, where one's misrepresentation causes the testator to make his will in the wrongdoer's favor.