The preparation of a will is an essential part of estate planning. Without a legal will, a probate court won't know how a deceased individual wanted their assets to be distributed. Wills must be prepared and signed without any type of coercion or pressure. Otherwise, the will could be contested in court.
Undue influence is one type of pressure that can be applied when trying to get someone to name a beneficiary. It's important that you understand the factors used to identify undue influence so that you can seek the help of an attorney if you suspect this type of foul play in the future.
1. Victim Vulnerability
The victim's unique circumstances will be evaluated when a court is trying to determine if undue influence affected the preparation of a will. Individuals who are in a vulnerable state are more likely to succumb to undue influence.
The court will consider things like age, cognitive development, and overall health when trying to assess how vulnerable a victim was at the time their will was drafted.
Undue influence can negate the legality of the will, allowing a judge to step in and redistribute assets.
2. Influencer Authority
Another factor that will be considered by a judge when evaluating an undue influence case is the type of authority the named influencer has over the victim. Anyone who has authority over an individual's finances, basic daily care, and health can wield a lot of authority. If someone in a position of power over the victim assists with the preparation of a will, undue influence could be affecting the directives contained within the will itself.
Most people try to be as fair as possible when preparing a well. They want each of their beneficiaries to inherit roughly the same amount of money and property. Any will that appears to be unfair or biased toward one child can be an indication that undue influence was exerted.
A judge will want to examine each child's background and relationship with the deceased in order to determine if the two were close during the deceased's life.
If proof showing an amicable relationship between a will's executor and any parties who believe that undue influence is presented in court, a judge can overturn the will and declare it invalid as a result of the undue influence involved.
Don't let undue influence rob you of your rightful inheritance. Contact a wills lawyer to learn more.