The passing of a loved one is undoubtedly a difficult time for anyone. It becomes even more challenging when suspicions arise regarding the legitimacy of their will.
Undue influence occurs when an individual manipulates or coerces a testator into creating or altering their will to benefit themselves. Identifying signs of undue influence is crucial to ensure that the final wishes of your loved one are respected and upheld. Here are a few:
Drastic changes in beneficiaries
One of the most apparent signs of undue influence is when a loved one’s will suddenly and drastically alters the beneficiaries. It raises a red flag if individuals close to the testator are unexpectedly disinherited or replaced with unfamiliar people. This abrupt change may indicate the influence of an outside party seeking personal gain.
Isolation and control
Undue influencers often isolate the testator from their family and friends, creating an environment where their influence can go unchecked. They may take charge of financial matters and medical decisions or restrict access to the testator, making it easier to exert control and manipulate the will in their favor.
Inconsistent or uncharacteristic provisions
Undue influence can manifest in inconsistent or uncharacteristic provisions within the will. These provisions may favor an individual who previously had little to no connection to the testator or disregard prior promises and agreements made with family members. Such inconsistencies may indicate external manipulation.
Assessing the testator’s vulnerability is crucial in determining undue influence. Factors such as advanced age, physical or mental frailty, isolation or dependence on others increase the susceptibility to coercion. Exploiters often target individuals more easily influenced due to their weakened state.
Recognizing signs of undue influence in a loved one’s will is paramount to safeguarding their intentions and protecting their legacy. While these signs do not automatically prove undue influence, they serve as indications that warrant further investigation.