Undue Influence on Wills in Nevada

by Elizabeth Rayne
The court will hear evidence of undue influence if a will is properly challenged.

The court will hear evidence of undue influence if a will is properly challenged.

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Wills are designed to reflect the wishes of the deceased and when undue influence occurred in drafting the will, you might have the right to challenge the validity of the document. Nevada law provides that only interested persons may challenge a will and only within a certain time frame. Although undue influence is a common claim, it is somewhat difficult to prove because it is often based on circumstantial evidence.

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Interested Persons

In Nevada, only interested persons may challenge the validity of a will, regardless of how strong the claims of undue influence may be. Interested parties are those who would receive a part of the estate under the will, or those who would receive assets if the will was revoked. When a will is revoked or found invalid by the court, the assets of the will are passed according to the state's intestate succession laws. For example, children who would inherit according the state's intestacy laws but are left out of the will would be considered interested parties.

Overview

Any interested person may file a will contest on the grounds of undue influence. After an individual passes away, a relative will typically file the will with the county clerk and file a petition for probate with the court. Interested parties will receive notice that a hearing concerning probate of the estate has been scheduled; the notice is also published in a local newspaper. If you received notice of the probate hearing, you must submit your written opposition to the will on the grounds of undue influence before the hearing takes place. You must also send your written opposition to any interested parties, including individuals who may receive part of the estate under the will.

Undue Influence

In order to successfully invalidate a will based on undue influence, the person bringing the claim has the burden of proving that the will did not reflect the decedent's actual interests due to the influence of another. Although evidence presented to prove undue influence is generally circumstantial, certain factors or circumstances are more likely to convince a court that undue influence occurred. For example, you may be more successful if you can show that there was a relationship of confidence, such as an attorney-client relationship, along with suspicious circumstances, such as the will drafter awarding part of the estate to himself. Similarly, if you can show that due to the age and mental capacity of the decedent, he was easier to take advantage of, this may help your case.

No Contest Clauses

In Nevada, a will may include a no contest clause, which revokes a beneficiary's right to collect under the will if he challenges the validity of the will. However, if you act in good faith and have probable cause to challenge a will on the basis of undue influence, you likely will not be disinherited under the will. The intent of the statute is to minimize challenges based on perceived unfairness in how the assets are divided among family members and not to prevent valid claims.