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Undue influence or honest assistance?

Many inheritance disputes arise when one heir thinks that another used undue influence to convince a parent or other family member to change their estate plan.

Experts note that a position of power is often involved. For instance, the heir is taking care of an elderly individual with mental or physical ailments. This may mean that the elderly person thinks they have to go along with whatever the heir suggests.

But the big question that may come up is whether or not it was really undue influence. Was it just honest assistance with the estate planning process?

For instance, maybe you live in Seattle and you have a sibling who moved to New York a decade ago. You help your parents draft their will and handle their estate because you're around to do it. You think that you're just being helpful, but your sibling claims that you influenced them, so the estate plan isn't really what they wanted.

This can be hard to sort through, but one thing to look for is inequality. It may appear to be a red flag if you get far more than your sibling. Last-minute changes may also be suspect. They could suggest you talked your parents into changing the will at a vulnerable moment.

Of course, neither of these red flags means it was definitely undue influence. Parents are allowed to leave unequal bequests. They may also not know what changes really are "last-minute" ones because they can't predict when they'll pass away. If you find yourself in an inheritance dispute, make sure you know what steps to take.

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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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