Estate planning is something that every adult should consider. Often, it is thought of as something only relevant to elderly individuals or those with illnesses, but this is far from the truth.
Estate planning documents should be founded upon the true wishes of their creators. Unfortunately, people can be forced to change their estate planning documents to favor someone else. This is commonly referred to as undue influence.
What does undue influence look like in terms of estate planning?
Befriending someone purely to be in their will
Money can bring out the worst in people. It’s possible that a distant relative or “friend” may come out of the woodwork if they realize someone has a significant estate. If they spend weeks and months badgering a person to include them in their will or other estate planning documents, this could amount to undue influence.
Abuse of caregiver status
Caregivers are often the closest individuals to elderly people. They may look after them and ensure their safety each day. While there’s nothing wrong with forming close bonds, they are supposed to act this way in a professional capacity. They should not be getting close to individuals for the sole purpose of persuading them to change their will. Caregivers being included in wills is a common source of disputes. If a caregiver has been included, this has to be based on the true wishes of the testator.
Any form of heavy persuasion in estate planning could amount to undue influence. If you suspect this has happened to someone close to you, be sure to look into your legal options.