June 4th, 2012
At the heart of many an undue influence case is the confidential relationship. Under the law of many jurisdictions, it’s a game-changer – it can shift burdens and create presumptions. But, proving a confidential relationship is often very fact intensive.
In Mangarelli v. Snyder, a New Jersey appellate court gives us a short, sweet lesson on facts sufficient to establish a confidential relationship under New Jersey law.Under New Jersey law, a confidential relationship exists where confidence in and dependence upon the person benefited are present. In this case, a confidential relationship existed where:
(1) The testator consulted the alleged undue influencer’s former attorney;
(2) The alleged undue influencer accompanied the testator to meetings with the attorney despite his advice to the contrary;
(3) The alleged undue influencer accompanied the testator to meetings with the testator’s financial advisor; and
(4) The testator executed a power of attorney giving the alleged undue influencer authority to conduct his legal and financial affairs months before the testator performed the allegedly unduly influenced acts.
Taken together, these four things demonstrated that the testator had placed confidence in the alleged undue influencer.