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Undue influence and the impact on estate plans

After the loss of a loved one, there will come a time when that person’s estate plan will be administered. The beneficiaries of the will or trust will begin to receive the property that they are entitled to receive under the plan documents.

In most circumstances, the administration of the estate will be a fairly straightforward process. However, there are some cases where things don’t seem to make sense, and it might be necessary to contest the will of your loved one. In this post, we will discuss the concept of undue influence, and the impact that it might have on both estate plans and the administration of your loved one’s estate.

What is undue influence?

There are many different types of behaviors that may constitute undue influence, but for the sake of this example, let’s say that you have an aunt who is in her 80s. You are her closest surviving relative. You spend a lot of time with her, and help her any time that she needs something.

Well, in this example, a new family moves in next door to your aunt. The family forms a very close bond with your loved one. They do everything for her, and she depends upon them for assistance for nearly every task.

They suggest to her that maybe she might want to think about including them in her estate plan. They take your aunt to see a lawyer, and create will that leaves everything to them, and nothing for you. You are never told about these changes, and only after she passes away do you find out about them.

What can you do if this happens?

These are very confusing cases. You have to be able to demonstrate that your aunt’s neighbors pressured your aunt into making changes to the will. That is, your aunt felt she had no other option but to comply with the neighbors’ demands. Proving this is very difficult, and it will most likely be an issue that ends up inside the courtroom.

What to do if you suspect undue influence might be an issue in your case

If you feel that the estate of your loved one might benefit from a closer review, you should consult an experienced attorney to learn more about the potential causes of action that could be available in your case. Your attorney will evaluate the situation and help you learn if you may have a claim.

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Riach Gese Jacobs, PLLC
7331 196th Street, SW
P.O. Box 1067
Lynnwood, WA 98046

Phone: 425-329-7857
Phone: 425-776-3191
Fax: 425-775-0406
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