When someone in your family dies, it is a difficult time. You want to spend time grieving and remembering your loved one, but there are important affairs to attend to.
If you find their estate plan and discover changes were made you were unaware of, you may wonder if undue influence played a role. Learning more about undue influence and how to recognize it may help you act if you believe this has occurred.
Undue influence defined
Undue influence occurs when someone manipulates a vulnerable person to change their will to leave them most or all their assets. Usually, the person guilty of this is a caregiver, adult child or advisor.
For example, if your loved one lives in a nursing home, a staff member may pressure them to change their estate plan. They could also threaten your loved one, forcing them to make changes that leave assets to them rather than family members.
If your loved one made changes to their estate plan near the end of their life that seem uncharacteristic, it is best to investigate the situation. You can present evidence to the court to show why you believe undue influence occurred. California courts can order that a previous version of the will or estate plan be used if your efforts are successful.
Signs of undue influence
One of the most obvious signs of undue influence is if a family member or natural beneficiary is replaced or passed over for someone who would not inherit much or anything from the individual.
It is important to remember that if you challenge a will and claim undue influence, you have the burden of proof. In this situation, you should know your legal rights and what must be shown to prove your case.