Copyright (c) 2000 The Connecticut Probate
Law Journal Association
The Quinnipiac Probate Law Journal
NOTE: THE EFFECTS OF UNDUE INFLUENCE ON THE AWARDING OF ATTORNEYS' FEES
15 Quinn. Prob. Law Jour. 173
The doctrine of undue influence is frequently invoked in the probate process as it is one of the leading causes of action raised by individuals who wish to contest wills. 1 A court finding of undue influence raises potentially serious problems for attorneys who expect payment for their services from the estate. 2 The issues presented in this article are: first, whether an attorney should be awarded fees from the estate when her client (the personal representative) procured the will by undue influence over the testator; second, whether undue influence is dispositive of the personal representative's bad faith; and third, whether bad faith is reason enough to deny attorneys' fees.
The principal item of expense in will contest litigation is attorneys' fees. 3 Attorneys' fees incurred in attempts to defeat or establish a will can be dealt with in three ways: (1) each party may be responsible for his own fees; (2) the unsuccessful party may be required to pay the fees for both sides; or (3) the estate may be charged with the expenses of either of the parties individually or collectively. 4 This note is concerned primarily with the third possibility - when the estate is charged with the payment of attorneys' fees. The article will address several questions. One, should the estate be responsible for paying the attorneys' fees of a personal representative who procured a will through undue influence or acted in bad faith in probating the will? 5 Two, ...
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