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Undue Influence Can Invalidate Estate Planning Documents

Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyersIn the weeks and months following the death of a loved one, you are likely to experience a wide range of emotions. Grief and sadness, of course, are often the most common, but you may also feel twinges of anger, guilt, and regret over missed opportunities. If your loved one was very sick or in pain, there may even be a sense of relief. All of these feelings are a normal part of dealing with a significant loss and are to be expected.

If your loved one had a will or another type of estate planning document, the emotional rollercoaster may resume when it comes time to execute the will. Many of the same feelings may come flooding back, possibly accompanied by a great deal of surprise if the will contains unexpected terms and provisions or is not the same document you discussed with your loved one prior to his or her death. When such surprises occur, it is worth trying to find out if the will was the product of undue influence and whether contesting the will is appropriate.

What Is Undue Influence?

A person’s will is supposed to be an organized list of his or her wishes regarding property, assets, debts, and any minor children. As with any estate planning document, a will should be created carefully, thoroughly, and voluntarily. This means that while other people may have opinions about what should be in the will, the creator of the will—or the testator—is responsible for making all of the necessary decisions. If the testator is tricked, forced, or manipulated into including certain provisions or removing particular beneficiaries, the entire document may be set aside.

The law expects that family members and spouses, for example, will have input to offer when a loved one is developing a will. Their influence, in most cases, is considered reasonable as long as it limited to normal conversations, calculations, and opinions. Undue influence, however, may occur when a caretaker or another person cuts off the testator from friends or family or threatens to withhold care from the testator. When undue influence is suspected, it is usually the result of a testator who is susceptible to being influenced—an aging or ill person, for example—and an influencer looking to take advantage of the situation.

Alleging Undue Influence

Before you file a will contest regarding undue influence on your loved one, it is important to understand a few things. First, you must be able to show that the provisions you are contesting are drastically different than what was expected, not just that you did not get what you wanted. You will also need to prove that the person who influenced your loved one had a confidential relationship with the testator that allowed the influence to take place. Finally, if the alleged influencer did not directly benefit from the situation, his or her influence may not be seen as undue. Keep in mind, however, that such benefits may have been in the form of financial gain prior your loved one’s death, so you may need to look beyond the will itself.

We Can Help

If you suspect that your loved one’s will was created under undue influence, contact an experienced Lombard will contest attorney. Call A. Traub & Associates today and get the guidance you need in making a difficult decision. Your loved one deserves to have their true wishes carried out and we are equipped to help make that happen.


Source:

http://thelawdictionary.org/article/three-important-examples-undue-influence-estate-planning/

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