Undue Influence and How to Identify It
The Estate Litigation Section at Hale Ball has over ten years of experience in successfully defending and prosecuting lawsuits regarding trusts and estates. Whether you have questions and concerns regarding a suspicious transfer, gift, or bequest of an elderly relative; or whether you find yourself accused of exercising your position or relationship to improperly influence a relative or loved one, the attorneys at Hale Ball, can assist you in navigating the law of trusts and estates in Virginia.
In Virginia, gifts, inheritances, and transfers which are the products of “undue influence” can be voided under certain circumstances. It is often difficult to recognize the difference between a gift or inheritance which is the natural product of love and affection a grantor has for a friend or relative, and a gift or inheritance which is the product of undue influence. Undue influence has been described in Virginia as a species of fraud. It is that influence which, when imposed upon a grantor, operates to destroy the grantor’s free will and to substitute the grantor’s wishes for that of the grantee. Frequent hallmarks of a gift or transfer which has been acquired through undue influence are the diminished mental capacity of the grantor and a confidential or fiduciary relationship between the grantor and grantee. For example, familial relationships, principal-agent relationships, and attorney-client relationships may rise to the level of a “confidential” relationship. This is especially so if the recipient of the transfer is managing the finances of the donor, making decisions on the donor’s behalf, and influencing or managing the donor’s activities and relationships with others.
If you have concerns about someone taking advantage of or exercising undue influence over your vulnerable loved one it is imperative that you promptly contact one of the experienced litigators at Hale Ball. Failure to take timely action can result in your claims being forever barred by the statute of limitations.
Additionally, for those of you who are actively assisting an elderly relative or loved one with their finances and have questions regarding your duties or questions regarding the validity of a transfer, it is imperative that you contact one of the experienced litigators at Hale Ball to determine your risk of liability and protect your interests. If you have already been served with a lawsuit it is in your best interest to seek legal counsel immediately.
Since 1980 the AV-rated law firm of Hale Ball has served the legal needs of individuals and businesses. Our team of attorneys include lawyers named to Super Lawyer and Rising Star lists, as well as attorneys with advanced legal degrees, specialty certifications and lawyers who teach their areas of practice to other lawyers.
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