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Wills, Trusts and Estates

• Courts occasionally invalidate wills found to have been the result of "undue influence." While charities ordinarily are the ones accused of exerting the undue influence in order to obtain testamentary gifts, they sometimes are themselves the victims of undue influence. Such was the case in a recent Minnesota lawsuit. An elderly widow executed a will leaving most of her sizable estate to the Salvation Army and another church agency. Later, while in her mid-90's, she developed a relationship with a physician who showed a special interest in her. The two saw each other socially, and the widow viewed the relationship as romantic. The widow thereafter amended her will to leave her entire estate to a medical foundation. Following her death, the church organizations objected to the admission of her will to probate, arguing that it was the result of undue influence by the physician. In rejecting ...

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  • July 1, 1988