Undue Influence – Will Contest


Tyson v. Harbin, [Ms. SC-2023-0387, Feb. 9, 2024] __ So. 3d (Ala. 2024). The Court (Mitchell, J.; Parker, C.J., and Shaw, Bryan, and Mendheim, JJ., concur) affirms the Lauderdale Circuit Court’s judgment entered on a jury verdict in favor of Cole Scott Harbin and Carson Ray Harbin (“the Harbin brothers”) finding that their mother’s fiancé, Richard Boyken Tyson, exerted undue influence in the execution of her will.

The Court reiterates that

To prove undue influence, a plaintiff must demonstrate: “‘(1) that a confidential relationship existed between a favored beneficiary and the testator; (2) that the influence of or for the beneficiary was dominant and controlling in that relationship; and (3) that there was undue activity on the part of the dominant party in procuring the execution of the will.’” Furrow v. Helton, 13 So. 3d 350, 353-54 (Ala. 2008) (quoting Clifton v. Clifton, 529 So. 2d 980, 983 (Ala. 1988)).

Ms. **5-6.

The Court concludes there was sufficient evidence on both elements of undue influence. The Court notes Cole Harbin’s testimony that “his formerly ‘strong-willed’ mother became ‘submissive’ to Tyson after her stroke and that Tyson liked to keep tabs on his mother.” Ms. *7. On the undue-activity element, “while Tyson denied speaking with the attorney who drafted their wills before executing those wills, that attorney testified that Tyson and Gwendolyn attended a preliminary meeting about will drafting together.” Ms. *8.

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