Knowledgeable Advocacy For All Aspects Of Estate Administration, Trusts And Conservatorship Matters

Red flags of undue influence

On Behalf of | May 10, 2024 | Estate And Probate Administration |

As it applies to estate planning, undue influence is a type of coercion or manipulation. A beneficiary attempts to influence the way that the estate plan is written for their own financial gain.

For example, one beneficiary acts as a caretaker for the elderly individual, while the other beneficiaries live further away from home. The caretaker tells the elderly person that they will no longer assist them unless they make certain changes to the estate plan. They’re using their position of power to manipulate that person‘s estate planning documents.

Sudden changes

One potential red flag of undue influence is when things change suddenly. If there are last-minute alterations to an estate plan, that can be problematic.

Highly unequal bequests

Unequal bequests are legal, and many people do use them even when they haven’t been influenced by someone else. But if the estate plan is heavily in favor of one person over the other, that could be a sign of undue influence. In the example above, perhaps the caretaker ends up getting 90% of the estate. Other siblings or beneficiaries may feel that such an unequal split was never the elderly person’s intention.

Decisions that don’t make sense

In some cases, a person who commits undue influence will lie to the elderly person. For instance, an adult child may tell their elderly parent that their other siblings don’t care about them and are just waiting for them to die so they can get their inheritance. They are just trying to drive a wedge between that elderly person and the other beneficiaries so that they can get the majority of the financial assets.

Do you believe that undue influence has occurred? It may lead to an estate dispute and you need to know what legal steps to take.