Realizing that your loved one didn’t have the estate plan you thought they did can be a disappointing experience. Most of the time, you have to accept your dissatisfaction with their decision and move on with your life.
However, in cases where you suspect someone else had a hand in those changes, you may be able to fight back. If any of the three signs below were present in your family, that could be a warning that undue influence may have impacted your loved one’s legacy.
The family member serving as caregiver isolated the testator
Perhaps it was a new, young stepparent who provided for your loved one in their last days. Maybe it was one of your siblings. When you try to schedule a visit or called to talk to your family member, there was always an excuse about why you and other people couldn’t have access to that person. Isolating family members and then blaming them for not being present is a common tactic of those trying to exert undue influence on an older adult.
Your loved one was always very clear about their estate wishes
Maybe your loved one wanted to give particular assets to certain people. Perhaps they intended to split the value of everything equally among their children or to give specific property to their grandchildren. The more open your loved one was about their wishes and the bigger the gap between those wishes and the estate plan is, the more likely it is that someone else played a role in those changes.
The caregiver became the new primary beneficiary
Perhaps the most obvious and overt of all warning signs of undue influence will be that the person with the most access to or control over your loved one is the one who benefits the most from the changes to the estate plan.
Recognizing the signs of undue influence can help you determine if it’s necessary to initiate probate litigation and fight back against unfair alteration of your loved one’s intended legacy.