Undue influence in estate planning

If a person is elderly, ill, or otherwise vulnerable, they may fall victim to individuals who attempt to take advantage of them in different ways. One method of manipulation against older adults in referred to as “undue influence” in the estate planning process.

If you believe that you or a loved one has been the unduly influenced in creating or altering terms of a will or other estate planning documents, you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney for assistance as soon as possible.

DO NOT HESITATE TO CALL THE DICKSON LAW GROUP AT (206) 621-1110 OR (253) 572-1000 TO DISCUSS A POSSIBLE LEGAL CLAIM.

What constitutes undue influence?

Undue influence in estate planning involves manipulating an individual to leave assets or property to the manipulator instead of to family or other expected beneficiaries. While repeated negative comments or griping about other family members may influence someone to rethink their will, such meddling does not constitute undue influence. Instead, undue influence generally must be proved by showing the following elements:

  • Illness, confusion or other weakness caused the will-maker to be vulnerable to undue influence.
  • The will-maker had a trusted or confidential relationship with the suspected manipulator.
  • The will leaves out close family members and instead leaves property or assets to the influencer.
  • The suspected manipulator influenced the will-maker to replace will provisions with other provisions that benefitted the manipulator.

This may occur by a person getting especially close to a vulnerable person and convincing them to visit a lawyer to substantially alter their will in an otherwise unexpected manner.

Obtaining justice for undue influence

Often, family members do not even realize that undue influence may have occurred until after the victim dies and they review the will. However, it is not too late to seek justice against the undue influencer as you may bring your concerns and objections up to the probate court via a will contest1. Undue influence claims may be challenging to prove as the accused manipulator can testify to their intentions and the case may be one person’s word against another’s.

However, an experienced attorney will know how to present evidence of your claims to obtain the justice you deserve.

Contact a Seattle and Tacoma estate planning attorney for help today

If you have concerns over the provisions in a will and suspect undue influence may have occurred, the lawyers at the Dickson Frohlich can help you with a potential case.

WE OFFER FREE CONSULTATIONS, SO PLEASE CALL ONE OF OUR OFFICES NOW AT (206) 621-1110 OR (253) 572-1000 FOR ASSISTANCE.

1http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=11.24