Ware v. Ware and the Presumption of Undue Influence in Confidential Relationships
Alaska law has long recognized that a presumption of undue influence arises as a matter of law when a will’s primary beneficiary participates in its drafting and has a fiduciary or confidential relationship with the testator. In its 2007 decision Ware v. Ware, the Alaska Supreme Court extended this principle beyond testamentary scenarios to any situation in which the principal in a confidential relationship benefits from the relationship. But the decision stated the law incorrectly. The court’s analysis, cited precedents, and common sense all demonstrate that the court meant to say that the presumption of undue influence arises when a fiduciary in a confidential relationship benefits from the relationship, not when a principal benefits.