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What Is Undue Influence And How Can I Fight It?
In the vast majority of cases, people leave their estate to their closest family members and friends. Most people only exclude their family and friends from their will when there is a family feud or some other disharmony in the family. For this reason, when a person who is sick and elderly dies and they inexplicably changed their will at the last minute to leave their entire estate, or a good portion of their estate, to a caretaker or to a relative stranger, family members have the right to have the courts determine if the change was made to the will because undue influence was exerted on their deceased family member.
The term undue influence describes a situation where a deceased person was taken advantage of and was coerced by someone who had control over them or who exerted influence over them to change their will. If a family wants to prove undue influence, they would have to show the following:
• The will leaves the estate in a way that one would not normally expect given the circumstances. For example, close family members, like a husband, wife, or the children, were excluded from the will without any explanation being given.
• There was a confidential relationship between the deceased and the person they left their property to in the will. This means that the person who made the will was dependent on or trusted the person who influenced them to change the will.
• The person who made the will was frail and was in an emotional and mental state that made them susceptible to the undue influence.
• The influencer manipulated the will maker, and this led to the will maker adjusting his will so that it was in harmony with the desire of the influencer and not his own desire.
An example of undue influence would be if a sick and elderly person has a friend who moves into their home to take care of them. That friend intentionally prevents the sick individual from having contact with his or her family. They then select an attorney and encourage the sick individual who depends on them to change their will to exclude family from the will and instead give the money to them.
Proving undue influence is a challenge since the person who wrote the will is deceased. Lawyers will need to rely on the testimony of doctors, family members, and caregivers to discuss what they know about the relationship between the person who died and the person who is being accused of exerting undue influence.
Contact Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC or call 703-370-8088 today to discuss your options.