In Estate of Jose M. Rodriguez the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals considered a verdict denying probate to a will because of undue influence. The court of appeals upheld the jury’s verdict.
Proof of a claim of undue influence has three elements: (1) the existence and exertion of an influence; (2) that subverted or overpowered the testator’s mind at the time he executed the instrument; (3) so that the testator executed an instrument he would not otherwise have executed but for that influence. A contestant may establish undue influence by direct or circumstantial evidence, but it is more frequently established by the latter.
The opinion notes the following evidence in support of the jury’s finding of undue influence:
While not one single piece of evidence standing alone is typically sufficient for undue influence, a number of pieces of circumstantial evidence added together will often support a finding of undue influence.
Undue influence rarely presents like the story in this classic Godfather scene: