This section is from the book "American Commercial Law Series ", by Alfred W. Bays. Also available from Amazon: American commercial law series.
Gifts secured through fraud are void.
Where through fraudulent representations a gift is secured which otherwise would not have been made, as where the beneficiary represents that if the will is made to him, he will do certain things, the will is void.
Where a gift by will is secured through undue influence the gift is invalid.
Undue influence means such influence that the will of the testator is overcome and he practically makes a will at the dictation of another. Mere persuasion, however great, does not constitute undue influence. Undue influence usually exists in cases where there is a relationship of dependency, as in case of physician and patient, attorney and client, parent and child, etc. Where the circumstances show that there was such an influence upon the testator that the freedom of his mind was thereby destroyed, the will is void. Very often religious beliefs of peculiar nature are involved in cases of undue influence on the strength of which another person works upon the fears or hopes or prejudices of the testator and thus secures a gift to himself.
A gift made by will under an insane delusion is void. An insane delusion is a belief which is unsupported in fact and refuses to give way to the argument of others.
Wills are often declared void because based upon what the law terms an "insane delusion." An insane delusion differs from insanity in that it is a delusion upon some one subject while as to other subjects the testator may be perfectly rational. Queer beliefs do not constitute insane delusions so long as they have any support in fact or if they are of a mere religious nature. Thus one's belief in spiritualism or religious beliefs by him of a very peculiar sort never constitute insane delusions because religion is a matter scarcely susceptible of proof and rests in belief only. An insane delusion is a belief which is not based upon any facts and persists in the face of evidence and the argument of friends. Thus in an Illinois case, a father believed his son to be guilty of serious crimes and manifested an unnatural hatred for him. As a matter of fact the son was of high standing in the community and there was no evidence of any sort tending to prove him anything except a man of the highest integrity. The court held that his disinheritance by will would be set aside because of an insane delusion respecting him.108