Posted By Seamus McDonald on 06/29/2022 in Category 1

Undue Influence Examples and Elements Under California Law

Undue Influence Examples and Elements Under California Law

Definition of Undue Influence: The definition of undue influence law was unified under Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15610.70. Undue influence is the improper use of authority or position by one person to persuade another person to act contrary to their own free will or interests. 

Undue influence occurred when there is a power imbalance between the two people, such as when one person has authority over the other, or when one person is particularly vulnerable due to economic need or psychological insecurity.

While it may be difficult to identify undue influence in some cases, there are certain warning signs that can indicate that undue influence may have occurred. These include economic consequences, such as one person taking on excessive debt in order to benefit the other person; a sudden change in behavior, such as suddenly becoming more compliant or giving away prized possessions; and isolation from friends and family, which can make a person more vulnerable to manipulation.

If you believe that you have been the victim of undue influence, it is important to seek law firm help as soon as possible to protect your rights.

There are many ways that someone can exert and prove undue influence over another person. Here are some examples of the types of behavior that may be considered for proving undue influence under California law:

  • Using a position of authority to pressure someone into doing something they wouldn't normally do

  • Isolating a person from their friends and family in order to control them

  • Making threats or presenting ultimatums in order to get someone to comply with your wishes

  • Taking advantage of someone's physical or mental weakness in order to get them to do what you want

  • Exploiting a person's trust or dependence on you in order to get them to do what you want

  • Persuading a person to sign over their property or assets to you by providing false information or making false promises

These are just some examples of the types of behavior that may be considered to exert undue influence. The elements to establish undue influence can vary depending on the specific situation. If you believe that any undue influence occurs on you, you should speak to an experienced attorney who can evaluate your case and help you protect your rights.

The #1 Difference Between Undue Influence and Duress

It's important to understand the difference between undue influence and duress. Both are forms of coercion, but they have different legal implications.

Duress is when someone is forced to do something against their will because of a threat of violence or harm. Under California law, duress must involve a "threat of imminent physical harm."

  1. This means that the threat must be immediate and present, not just future or hypothetical. Undue influence, on the other hand, is when someone is persuaded to do something against their will by another person who uses manipulation or persuasion.

  2. Unlike duress, there doesn't need to be a threat of violence or harm. Instead, the person who's exerting the influence is usually taking advantage of some kind of relationship they have with the victim. For example, they might be a family member, friend, or authority figure.

If you're ever in a situation where you feel like you're being coerced into doing something, it's important to understand which type of coercion you're dealing with. This will determine what legal options are available to you.

How does undue influence relate to probate litigation, will disputes, trust litigation, trust disputes, estate disputes, and conservatorships?

In probate, will, trust, and estate litigation, as well as in conservatorship proceedings, the issue of undue influence may arise when there is a question about whether a person's decision was truly their own, or if they were unduly influenced by someone else.

For example, if someone changes their will or trust shortly before their death, and there is evidence that they were pressured by someone else to do so, the court may question whether the person's decision was truly their own.

In such cases, the court may appoint a special investigator to look into the matter and determine whether there was any undue influence involved. If it is determined that someone was unduly influenced, the court may set aside the will or trust or may appoint a conservator to protect the personal or property rights.

What sort of attorney or lawyer prosecutes undue influence?

There is no specific type of attorney or lawyer who prosecutes cases of undue influence. Any attorney or lawyer who handles probate, will, trust, estate, or conservatorship litigation may potentially be involved in a case where the issue of undue influence arises.

If you believe that you have been the victim of undue influence, you should speak to an experienced attorney or apparent authority who can evaluate your case, help you protect your rights, and constitute legal advice.

What is mean by the vulnerability of the victim?

Vulnerability can mean many things, but when it comes to victims of crime, it often refers to a physical or mental condition that makes them more susceptible to harm. For example, a young child or an elderly person may be less able to defend themselves against an attacker. Similarly, someone with a disability may be unable to escape from a dangerous situation.

In some cases, the offender may take advantage of the victim's vulnerability by subjecting them to excessive persuasion or undue influence. In other cases, the offender may falsely claim to have authority over the victim, as in incidents of financial elder abuse.

By definition, vulnerable victims are those who are more likely to suffer harm due to their reduced physical or mental capacity. As such, they deserve our compassion and protection.

What is the influencer's apparent authority?

An influencer's apparent authority is a victim's prior intent to follow the influencer's direction and the alleged victim's vulnerability to such direction. This can often be seen in cases where a child is abused by a family member or care provider. The victim may have had no intention of following the influencer's directions, but their vulnerability made them susceptible to being influenced. In other cases, an influencer may have used their position of authority to coerce a victim into doing something against their will.

For example, a spiritual adviser may have convinced a vulnerable person to give them money or property. Apparent authority can be used as evidence in criminal and civil cases involving allegations of abuse or fraud.