March 4th, 2013
In many jurisdictions, the existence of a confidential relationship can turn an undue influence inquiry on its head. That’s because the existence of a confidential relationship – usually coupled with evidence of something else – can create a presumption of undue influence. Under Wisconsin law, that “something else” is “suspicious circumstances surrounding making of the will.” When you have a confidential relationship with suspicious circumstance, then a presumption of undue influence is raised, which must be rebutted by the proponent of the disputed will.
“Suspicious circumstances” seems like a fuzzy concept so we’re going to take notice when the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin finds that suspicious circumstances existed that precluded summary judgment on an undue influence claim. In Estate of Ely (Ely v. Orth), the Court of Appeals did just that. Let’s take a look at these “suspicious circumstances.” (more…)