Tortious Interference with Expectation of Inheritance
Our San Francisco Probate Litigation Attorneys Uphold the Final Wishes of Your Loved One
Bay Area probate litigation attorney Charles Triay has more than 30 years of experience practicing probate litigation. He works with those who believe they did not receive what a deceased loved one left them. Such a case often involves tortious interference with inheritance. In 2012, California became the 26th state in the US to adopt the tort of Intentional Interference with Expectation of Inheritance (IIEI).
With recognition by the Fourth Appellate District, this tort affords individuals an opportunity to pursue legal action if another party uses fraud or other tortious method to prevent them from obtaining an inheritance they would have otherwise gained. Our law firm can help determine if your case has the five elements essential in an IIEI. We can also tell you if you qualify as an eligible plaintiff.
What are the Five Elements of an Intentional Interference with Expectation of Inheritance?
To have an IIEI claim, the court examines several factors when determining the validity of tortious, or wrongful, conduct. The five elements you must allege include:
- The existence of an expectancy. This comes into play if another party was able to use fraud or another method of tortious interference to change a will and it revoked your inheritance. The other party also might have prevented the establishment of a legal document. Then if the deceased died in intestate, you must be able to prove that, prior to this interference, you had an expectancy to act as a beneficiary. Examples to prove this expectancy may include an earlier will, a draft or written intention from a testator. You can also show that the other party was aware of your previous inclusion.
- The other party was intentional when interfering with this expectancy. This involves proving the other party intentionally conducted themselves to interfere with your ability to receive inheritance. It needs to be more than negligence or breach of duty. It can be difficult to prove what the state of mind of the defendant was when interfering.
- How they interfered was tortious in nature. This could involve the other party committing fraud, defamation or a breach of fiduciary duty. It might also involve suppressing, forging or altering a document or will in any way that affects what the deceased is or is not bequeathing to beneficiaries.
- You would have received the inheritance or gift without the interference. You must demonstrate to the court that the other party aimed their tortious actions at the testator, or person who created the will. This then caused interference with the final wishes and true intent of the will or document.
- Damages in the case. Damages in an IIEI case can include the value of the property you may have received if the interference had not occurred. You might also find available consequential and punitive damages.
Learn More About Tortious Interference with Inheritance
The Triay Law Office assists clients dealing with the complex legal issues that arise in an IIEI claim. By providing cost-effective legal representation, we have helped hundreds of individuals in Northern California with matters, such as undue influence or probate litigation. Please speak with our San Francisco probate litigation lawyers for more information about your legal rights.