73 Brook. L. Rev. 579 (2007-2008)
Can Religious Influence Ever Be Undue Influence

handle is hein.journals/brklr73 and id is 585 raw text is: Can Religious Influence
Ever Be Undue Influence?
Jeffrey G. Shermant
[TIhere are no instances where men are so easily imposed upon as at
the time of their dying, under pretense of charity ....
Attorney-General v. Bains'
The short answer to my title's question is yes. The
longer answer is, well, longer. The Lord Chancellor's quoted
remark about charity and deathbed susceptibility reflects our
law's longstanding uneasiness with eleventh-hour charitable
bequests and our courts' struggle to differentiate between a
testator's own independent charitable impulses and those
imposed on her by an outsider playing upon her fears or
weakness. The Bains case itself involved an improperly
executed will.2 The defective will contained a charitable
bequest, and the Chancellor was asked to rule that the bequest
was nonetheless effective (as an appointment), presumably
because of the longstanding judicial policy favoring transfers to
charity.3 He refused.4 A lack of proper execution may suggest
t Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of
Technology. A.B., 1968, J.D., 1972, Harvard. In writing this Article, I have benefited
greatly from the advice and wisdom of Daniel Hamilton and Steven Heyman, and I am
grateful for their assistance. And I should like to thank the Marshall D. Ewell
Research Fund for supporting my work on this project.
1 Prec. Ch. 270, 272, 24 Eng. Rep. 131, 131 (1708). A similar-indeed,
possibly identical-case is reported as Attorney-General v. Barnes, Gilbert Eq. Ca. 5, 25
Eng. Rep. 4 (1708).
2 Strictly speaking, the term will states a legal conclusion about a
document: that the document has been validated (provisionally, at least) by a probate
court. Until such validation occurs, the document is only a purported will. See, e.g.,
Stephen v. Huckaba, 838 N.E.2d 347, 350 (11. App. 2005). Similarly, until a purported
will is admitted to probate, the maker of that will is not a testator but only an
apparent testator. See, e.g., Russell v. Wachovia Bank, N.A., 633 S.E.2d 722, 726
(S.C. 2006). In the interests of simplicity, however, I shall follow custom and use only
the words will or testator in this Article except in those instances where purported
will or apparent testator is necessary to avoid ambiguity.
(1969). Jones writes:


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