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Understanding “Undue Influence” in Estate Planning

Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning attorneysSadly, as long as there are vulnerable people in the world, unscrupulous individuals will attempt to exploit that vulnerability. This is especially a concern for those with elderly or disabled relatives. When someone exerts “undue influence” on an elderly or otherwise incapacitated person, they try to convince that person to make a different decision than he or she planned to make. This often occurs with financial and inheritance concerns. If you believe that your relative was under undue influence when he or she created a will or other estate planning document, you may be able to bring these suspicions to probate court.

Elderly Individuals and Those with Dementia Can Be Taken Advantage Of

Probate is the verification process which every will goes through in order for inheritance directions to be carried out after an individual dies. If you have recently lost a loved one and you suspect that his or her will does not actually reflect his or her final wishes, you may petition the court to have the will invalidated. This is called contesting the will. In order to prove your relative was under undue influence, you will need to show that:

  • Directions for asset distribution in the will are much different from what people close to the deceased would expect. For example, if close family members were left out of the will with no explanation, this may be evidence of undue influence or coercion;
  • The deceased person was particularly reliant on or trusting of the individual who you believe exerted influence;
  • Illness or cognitive decline made the deceased person susceptible to undue influence;
  • The person who you believe influenced the testator took advantage of him or her and benefited from this deceptive intimidation; and
  • The suspected influencer substituted his own desires for that of the will-maker.

It is important to note that unsolicited opinions and casual suggestions are not the same thing as undue influence. If your relative was mentally and physically independent, you may have a difficult time proving that his final wishes were not his own.

In the even that you prove that undue influence did, in fact, affect your loved one’s will, the court may set that document aside. A previous valid will is likely to be allowed to stand in its place. If there is no previous will, the deceased person’s assets will be handled in accordance with the intestate laws of the applicable state.

Let an Arlington Heights Estate Planning Attorney Help

Challenging a loved one’s will can be an arduous task. Fortunately, you do not have to face probate court alone. Speak to an experienced Lombard estate administration attorney from A. Traub & Associates today and get the legal guidance and support you need. Call 630-426-0196 to schedule a confidential consultation today.

 

Sources:

https://www.thebalance.com/what-are-the-grounds-for-contesting-a-will-3505208

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2104&ChapterID=60&SeqStart=5300000&SeqEnd=6800000

Illinois State Bar Association DuPage County Bar Association Northwest Suburban Bar Association American Inns of Court DuPage Association of Woman Lawyers National Association of Woman Business Owners Illinois Association Criminal Defense Lawyers DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
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