How Can Undue Influence Affect Your Estate Plans?

Elder abuse is an unfortunately common occurrence that happen in multiple scenarios, especially during estate planning. People will try to manipulate others who are in vulnerable positions in order to gain some sort of physical or financial benefit. Undue influence is a legal term that explains this improper manipulation. Relatives of the deceased person who had suspicions that the deceased was taken advantage of can try to prove undue influence in probate court.

How Do I Prove Undue Influence?

If you suspect that there was undue influence involved in an estate plan, you must bring a will contest into probate court, after the will-maker’s death. As the suspicious relative, it will be up to you to prove that the will was written under someone’s undue influence. One way you could prove this is by explaining that the will leaves property or assets in a particular way that you wouldn’t expect, such as unusually leaving out close family members without any obvious explanation. You could also establish undue influence by demonstrating a close and trusting relationship between the manipulator and the deceased. You may also need to prove that the will-maker was mentally and/or physically vulnerable during this time, due to illness, weakness, or generally unhealthy circumstances. Lastly, you must prove that the manipulator took advantage of the will-maker and benefited from their will by substituting his or her own interests for those of the will-maker.

Proving undue influence can be difficult in an undue influence lawsuit, because the court must rely on other witnesses since the person who made the will cannot come to court and speak for themselves. If you believe that a vulnerable family member could be taken advantage of in the future and cannot make rational estate planning decisions, you should contact the North Shore Planning.