Master Finds that Will Was Not the Product of Undue Influence

Delaware Fiduciary Litigation Blog

Posted January 13, 2015

IMO Last Will & Testament of Ethel Smith C.A. No. 8532-MA (January 8, 2015)

After applying the elements of undue influence to the facts of the case before her, Master in Chancery Ayvazian found that the Petitioners had failed to demonstrate by the preponderance of evidence that the Will was the product of undue influence. The elements of undue influence are well-established in Delaware law. Specifically, in order to for a court to find undue influence, the following elements must be demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence: (1) a susceptible testatrix; (2) the opportunity to exert influence; (3) a disposition to do so for an improper purpose; (4) the actual exertion of such influence; and (5) a result demonstrating its effect. See, e.g., In re Estate of West, 522 A.2d 1256, 1264 (Del. 1987). After going through of each of the five factors in detail, the Master concluded that “the Will appears to reflect the wishes of a stubborn and opinionated woman who valued hard work and family, and was generous to the people she loved” and was not the product of undue influence.


William M. Kelleher, Director
Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella, P.A.