Posted by Dana Law Group on September 16, 2022
When you pass away, you don’t want to have your heirs fighting over what is in the estate. However, this is common when family members are settling an estate and someone contests the will’s validity. When making this assertion, people have to contest that there was something wrong with the will or the signing of it. It’s common for this assertion to be that the deceased person was under undue influence when they signed the will. In Arizona, this often leads to litigation in order to invalidate the will. This is especially common when the deceased was elderly at the time of making the will.
Exerting undue influence over an elderly person and their estate plan is sometimes done by family members in order to financially exploit an elderly person. This is a type of elder abuse, and you will need an attorney to fight the will in court. So, what does the court consider undue influence to be? It is considered to be someone manipulating the person into making changes in their estate plan or will so that it’s no longer what the elderly person wants it to be. The will becomes a reflection of what the other party wants rather than their own. This is often done to financially benefit the person who is doing the manipulating. An example of this would be someone going to visit an elderly person in a nursing home and talking them into changing the will to benefit the other party.
If you’re unsure that someone had undue influence on the person writing the will, there are a few red flags to look for. If someone is isolating the elderly person and not letting them talk to their friends and family, they may be exerting too much influence of that person. If one party gets too involved in the creation of the estate plan or will, they may be influencing the elderly person to leave more to them. If the will favors one person too much, and that person was overly active in the creation of the will, this is a sign of undue influence.
If the elderly person is highly dependent on someone, that person may be exerting too much influence over them when it’s time to create the will. If the will previously looked very different from the way the current will is, this can be another sign. There may be good reasons for making big changes, but the reason could also be undue influence.
If you have questions about wills, whether it’s contesting them or drafting them, we’re available at Dana Law Group to help you with various aspects of wills and estate planning.