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What is undue influence? 

| Dec 18, 2020 | Probate & Estate Planning |

In theory, no one should ever have any say in an estate plan but the person who is making the plan. Perhaps the one exception is when a married couple is planning together, but, even then, it is that couple that should be allowed to make the plan based on their desires. 

In reality, though, this is not always what happens, and it can lead to a lot of problems. One thing to consider carefully, while planning or when heading to probate, is the role of undue influence. 

When people are pushed into doing things against their will

The best way to think of undue influence is that it makes it so that the person’s own wishes are not reflected in the plan due to the “improper influence” that is enacted against them. This is often done for the gain of the influencer. 

Say, for instance, that a person has two children. They want to leave their money equally to both. However, one child begins making up stories about the other to put a wedge between that child and their parent. They convince the parent that the other person is financially irresponsible, for instance, and should not get nearly that much money. The elderly person changes their will so that the vast majority of the money goes to the influencer. 

You could think of this as fraud, trickery, or deceit. No matter how you define it, though, the planner’s wishes were not allowed to make it into that estate plan. 

What can you do?

If you think that this has happened to your parent, altering the will in someone else’s favor, be sure you know what legal options you have. A will that subverts the deceased’s intentions can be challenged. An attorney can tell you how.

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