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What is undue influence over an estate?

On Behalf of | Nov 18, 2022 | Probate |

Undue influence is one common reason that is cited when someone wants to challenge a will. They believe that the will does not reflect the deceased person’s wishes, and the reason that they give is that the elderly person was manipulated. This usually means that another person influenced the elderly individual to change their will for their benefit.

This is different than claiming that someone created a fake will or altered it themselves, making it fraudulent. The alterations were definitely made by the person who had the authorization to do them. It is the manipulation of this elderly individual that calls those changes into question. 

Why does this happen?

Cases where this happens often involve financial assets and how they’re divided between different family members. 

For example, a family member who lives close to an elderly parent may end up providing a lot of care, while the family member on the other side of the country simply isn’t around as much. This can create resentment — or at least the idea that the person who is closer is owed something extra, so they can then use their influence to manipulate their parents into altering the will.

It’s also important to note that this isn’t always the case, even when it is alleged. People will sometimes complain about undue influence simply because the estate plan leaves unequal bequests, even though the reality is that the person who wrote the will fully wanted to split the money up in an unequal manner. 

As a result, these cases can get very complicated. Getting to the bottom of it is quite important for your family, so make sure you know what legal options you have.