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3 FAQs about undue influence and wills

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2022 | Estate planning

As you age, you want to ensure that everything you have built gets dispersed how you want and to whom you want.

According to a Caring.com survey, only 33% of Americans have a living trust or will. Unfortunately, even as one of those with a plan, your wishes may get contested. Undue influence ranks high among the legal reasons for contesting a will.

1. What does undue influence mean?

At the basic level, it means that another person or persons have persuaded you to draft and sign a will that does not truly indicate your wishes. Considered a form of control, proving it requires evidence of an opportunity to exert influence, the motive for the persuasion and a final result that shows the use of influence.

2. What does it look like?

Undue influence may easily work its way into the situation of elderly or ill people. If you rely on someone for transportation, assisting with medications or living with a caregiver, it may raise the suspicion of other family members if that person receives more from your will. Many other situations can create the potential for suspected influence, such as leaving assets to a non-family member you have a close relationship.

3. How can I avoid people using it to contest my will?

Keep your estate planning and relationships separate. Although you can tell your loved ones your wishes to avoid any surprises, handle all legal aspects alone. That includes not allowing a beneficiary to drive you to the lawyer drafting your will. Record the singing of the will. During the process, explain your reasoning behind it. This recording will prove that you signed it alone and of your own free will.

While you hope no one contests your will, taking extra precautions may help ensure that it does not happen.