When planning their wills, individuals have the option to delegate their assets as they please. However, some beneficiaries may not agree with the delegation and may petition the courts to reverse or alter the request as the will states.
In cases where the petitioning party claims undue influence, it is important to understand what such a claim entails. There are a few key facts to know about undue influence.
In short, undue influence occurs when individuals who have a confidential relationship with other people convince them to make will determinations against what others may consider to be their natural impulses. Most commonly, undue influence appears as elderly individuals leaving a large part or all of their estate to a caregiver when the individuals have living family members. Those family members may choose to file a claim and must provide proof of such influence in court in order to have a fighting chance.
If a judge determines that undue influence played a part in the creation of an individual's will, the will may become invalid. In such cases, the courts decide how to distribute the assets. Claimants should know that this might not always result in them receiving the number of assets they desire.
In some cases, claimants may be siblings who do not agree with another sibling, who provided care for the deceased, receiving a larger portion of the inheritance. In such cases, the courts may not determine undue influence. It is quite common for middle-aged adults to take care of their aging parents, and it is natural for those constantly around an individual to have some influence. However, these factors do not constitute a determination of foul play.
As you can see, undue influence is a delicate claim that can have significant impact. Whether you are looking to file a claim or are facing one against you, having the proper knowledge is important in reaching a desirable outcome.