In many cases, a beneficiary may remain unaware of what a will entitled them to until after their loved one passed. But, if you feel a loved one’s will is unfair, or left you out completely, questions of undue influence may arise for you and possible other beneficiaries or family members who may also feel excluded.
As your loved one creates their estate plan, it is natural for family members to assert claim to items, or to direct their loved one to grant them ownership of certain property or a specific dollar amount. This “undue influence,” however, can cause legal trouble if they try to impose their wishes, or demand what they believe is their right, on a vulnerable or elderly adult during the estate planning process.
What you need to do to prove your point in probate
If you suspect undue influence is the reason for the choices made in your loved one’s estate plan, you may be able to contest matters in probate court. In order for a probate judge to decide a will or estate plan is invalidated by undue influence, you must provide proof of the following:
- Ill-intent of the influencer, through substituting his or her own desire over your loved one’s will
- Your loved one’s susceptibility to undue influence
- A relationship of dependence on the person who allegedly influenced the estate plan
- The will you are contesting distributes the estate inequitably among family members
Some influence from adult children is typical as elderly parents plan for their future. And, while undue influence may be difficult to prove, if you feel unnecessarily excluded from your loved one’s will, you may be interested in looking into the “how” and “why” of what you can do about it.