One of the most important legal concepts in estate disputes is undue influence. Though some legal concepts are complicated, undue influence is straightforward. The hard part is proving it in an estate dispute or will contest.
Let’s look at what this term means, how it might apply to estate disputes, and what you need to know if you’re considering taking legal action to demand your fair share of your inheritance.
What Does Undue Influence Mean?
Undue influence means that someone is coerced, manipulated, or tricked by a dominant party into doing something. In estate disputes, it usually means that the person completing their will was manipulated or forced into changing their final wishes in a way that was not in-keeping with their own free will or without regard for the consequences.
What Are Examples of Undue Influence in Estate Disputes?
Undue influence is a factor in many estate disputes. Though it can take many forms, here are a few of the most common examples.
- An elderly person is manipulated by a late-in-life spouse to change their will so the spouse receives more and the elderly person’s heirs receive less in an estate.
- One child influences their parent to change their will to favor them more than other beneficiaries listed in the will.
- A caregiver convinces an elderly person to give them loans or include them in a will, thus affecting the inheritance of beneficiaries.
Any type of relationship can be the source of undue influence, though it often comes from people who spend a significant amount of time with an elderly person and exploit them for financial gain.
Warning Signs Your Loved One Has Been Unduly Influenced
The biggest factor that makes undue influence possible is the vulnerability of the person being influenced. Elderly people are often increasingly vulnerable as they age, and physical dependence on another or cognitive deficiencies like dementia make undue influence more likely.
If your loved one has formed close relationships with someone late in life and those relationships are with domineering or manipulative parties, it’s possible those parties could be unduly influencing your loved one.
If your relationship with your loved one is strained because of these newly formed relationships, it is also possible that your inheritance will be affected because of it.
What Can Be Done About Undue Influence?
If you’re concerned about the well-being or exploitation of your loved one, consider meeting with them in private to see if they’re physically and mentally okay. Undue influence doesn’t always stem from abuse, but it’s good to rule out abuse as a factor.
Unfortunately, it’s not always clear to beneficiaries that a loved one has been manipulated until after they pass, often during the probate process. If you believe that you’ve been denied your rightful inheritance, then don’t hesitate to explore your legal options.
Contact Fair Share Lawyers for Help
If your loved one was unduly influenced into changing their will, then you might have legal options available to contest it. Contact the Nashville estate dispute attorneys at Fair Share Lawyers today to have us review your case and help you determine the best path forward.