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Church Gift from Will Ruled Invalid

Court says gift was product of pastor's "undue influence."

Key point: A gift of property to a church that is contained in a decedent's will can be invalidated if the gift was the product of "undue influence."

• The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that a provision in a deceased church member's will leaving the bulk of her estate to her church was invalid since it was a product of the pastor's "undue influence." A 96-year-old woman died, leaving the bulk of her estate to the Baptist church she had attended for many years. For many years, the woman suffered from alcoholism and during the 1970's her health and living conditions deteriorated. From 1980 to 1983 the pastor of a local Baptist church became closely acquainted with her and visited in her home several times. By 1984 all of the woman's friends were members of this church. The pastor arranged for several of them to regularly assist the woman by cleaning her home. Through this process ...

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Posted:
  • November 1, 1995

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