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Wills, Trusts, and Estates

Some documents may be invalid if donor was under 'undue influence.'

Key point. A will or other legal document that transfers property to a church may be invalidated if the donor lacked mental capacity, or if the transfer was the result of "undue influence."

A Louisiana court ruled that the fact that an elderly person changes her will to remove a gift to her church is not evidence of either a lack of mental capacity or undue influence. A woman left a substantial portion of her estate to her Catholic church in a will executed in October of 1992. In April of 1993, a few months prior to her death, she changed her will and removed the gift to her church and left her entire estate to a friend. The church alleged that the woman's April 1993 will should not be admitted to probate since she lacked mental capacity a few months prior to her death to change her will, and that it was the product of "undue influence." In rejecting these claims, the court acknowledged ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • March 1, 1996

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