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Did undue influence change the terms of someone’s estate plan?

| May 28, 2020 | Probate

The term “last will and testament” is meant to reflect that the documents with someone’s wishes regarding the disposition of their assets could very well be the final legacy that they leave. Therefore, it’s important that the terms of their will and any other estate plan documents created by someone actually reflect their wishes, desires and relationships.

Sadly, as people get older or when they find themselves in situations that compromise their health, the outcome could be that someone in the position of authority over that older adult abuses their responsibility for personal gain. Bullying or coercing someone into changing their estate plan is one such abuse. Someone who cares for your loved one in their final years, whether it is a sibling, a professional caregiver or a new spouse could exert undue influence over your loved one and their will.

What constitutes undue influence?

Decisions regarding a personal legacy and the assets acquired over a lifetime should be made by the individual who owns those assets. The testator creating a will and other documents should be able to make decisions that reflect their values and wishes.

When someone else attempts to control or manipulate the estate plan of another person, particularly if they use a position of authority or power to do so, they exert undue influence on the testator and thereby prevent them from making a decision that reflects their true preferences and values.

If you have any documentation that indicates a caregiver or family member leveraged their relationship with your loved one in order to coerce them into changing the terms of their estate plan, you could potentially ask the probate court to review the circumstances.