Many people need help in their later years, especially when creating their estate plan. This complex task often leads people to turn to both loved ones and legal counsel for input and guidance. When, though, does assistance become undue influence, and what impact can that influence have on a person’s legacy?
What is undue influence?
Undue influence occurs when one person seeks to benefit themselves by pressuring another person to act against their interests or wishes. This can involve a caregiver or other person in a position of power pressuring your loved one through threats, isolation or manipulation. However, it may also involve a person abusing their social status, education level or close emotional relationship with your loved one to manipulate them into making a decision they would not otherwise have made.
Undue influence over a will involves three factors. First, the person must have a relationship with the person writing the will, whether that is a personal or professional connection. Second, they must have been an active part of writing or executing the will. Third, they must benefit from the will, whether by receiving a substantial portion of the estate or a particularly valuable asset.
What can you do if someone took advantage of your loved one?
Undue influence can significantly impact an estate and your loved one’s legacy. Not only will the person exerting this influence receive assets that your loved one may not have wanted to give them, but other beneficiaries may not receive their fair share.
If you believe that undue influence impacted your loved one’s estate plan, it is possible to challenge the will and use either an earlier version of their estate plan or Florida law to distribute their assets.