What is undue influence?

 

Undue influence is a legal matter when one’s free will is usurped by another.  This can be a serious matter when handling estate planning with the elderly or the debilitated. There are countless instances where a person who may be considered “frail” who’s estate holds significant assets has become a target. This manipulation is real and the end result can be terrible for the subject and their family. Undue influence can happen in a variety of ways. Whether it is out of duress, the or the promise of romantic relations, undue influence undermines the integrity of the estate and often does not follow the real wishes of the testator.

To know if a testator has been unduly influenced, there are some examples of red flags. For one, if the testator leaves out significant family members from the will that have maintained a long-lasting and positive relationship, and there are no clear reasons to leave them out, it may be grounds to contest the will. If one caretaker benefits the most from the will in a suspicious way, it could be a case of undue influence. Another prime example of a red flag for undue influence is isolation. When a will maker is cut off from friends and family abruptly, there may be someone feeding them misinformation or physically barring others from the subject’s life. If the will is suspiciously one-sided or significant family members are left out, it could be grounds to contest the will.

Because the subject is unaware of what is happening to them, it is often on the beneficiary of the estate to take legal action. Only the people that would have directly benefited from the will may contest one. It is important to consult with an attorney if you believe that your loved one has been the victim of undue influence. The Law Offices of Yacoba Ann Feldman is an experienced law firm. We recognize the importance of protecting the integrity of a will and our firm is ready to represent your needs and fight for what you know is right.