Estate Planning Lawyer
Undue influence occurs when a person puts pressure on someone to make changes to his or her will to benefit the influencer. For example, the person may persuade the testator to remove a family member from the will, so he or she can receive that family member’s share. If you believe that your loved one was unduly influenced when creating a will, it may be time to consult an estate planning lawyer.
Here are a few tips to identify undue influence.
Look at the Testator’s Mental State
If there is suspicion of undue influence, the court will take the testator’s mental health into consideration. If the testator was not in his or her right mind when the will was executed, the document may be considered invalid. For example, if the testator has dementia when signing the will, he or she may have been unduly influenced and the court may need to intervene.
Watch Out for Unexpected Inheritances
When determining undue influence, the court may see if the testator gave away his or her property in an unexpected way. For example, if the testator has good relationships with all of his or her children, it may look suspicious if the person left all his or her possessions to a caretaker.
Examine Close Relationships
There is definitely nothing wrong with having close relationships. In fact, they can help make you a happier and more well-rounded person. However, if a testator has a close relationship with someone who may unduly influence him or her, it becomes a problem. For instance, let’s say that the testator is close with a neighbor and that neighbor always goes to his or her estate planning appointments. In this situation, the neighbor may be trying to unduly influence the testator.
Determine If the Testator Was Isolated from Others
It is usually not a good sign if the testator has been isolated from family and friends. Sometimes an influencer will try to keep a testator away from his or her loved ones. The influencer may try to convince the testator that his or her family and friends do not care about him or her anymore. As a result, the testator may decide to leave his or her estate to the influence. Elderly and disabled individuals are especially at risk to undue influence because of their isolation.
What to Do If You Suspect Undue Influence
If you have reason to believe that your loved one was unduly influenced during the creation of his or her will, it is important to act quickly. Get in touch with an estate planning lawyer and explain your situation. Since providing undue influence can be complex, you want someone knowledgeable and experienced on your side. A skilled estate planning lawyer can help you gather evidence to prove your case and represent you in the courtroom.