What is undue influence?

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2021 | Estates

When Indianans want some say regarding what happens to their assets after they die, they often write wills. Courts throughout the state typically respect the language of these wills, but that is not always the case. If a will does not reflect its writer’s genuine intentions, a court may determine it is invalid.

In the estate planning context, undue influence is a common reason to contest a will. Undue influence occurs when someone supplants his or her interests over the desires of a will’s writer. Usually, when there is an undue influence in a will, traditional beneficiaries miss out on their fair share.

Vulnerable individuals

While anyone may fall victim to undue influence during the estate planning process, certain individuals have a heightened risk. These include the following:

  • Those with cognitive decline
  • Those with few close friends or relatives
  • Those with physical ailments
  • Those who live in nursing homes

Because these vulnerable individuals often do not realize someone is manipulating them, you may not notice undue influence until the will’s author dies. That is, your first piece of evidence may be the loss of your inheritance to the undue influencer.

Valuable evidence

It can be difficult to prove undue influence, as will writers enjoy broad flexibility to distribute their assets as they see fit. Nevertheless, to obtain what you rightfully deserve, you may need to gather as much evidence as possible. This evidence may include both documentation of your loved one’s state of mind and witness statements.

You may not have long to contest your relative’s will after he or she dies. Ultimately, if you think the will is not reliable because of undue influence, you may owe it to your loved one to object.