If your father drafted a will before he died, he had more of an estate plan than most. In fact, according to a recent study, nearly 70% of Americans do not have even a basic will. Still, whether you stand to inherit considerable wealth or nothing at all, you want to be sure your father’s will reflects his true wishes.
Undue influence happens when an influencer pressures a person to draft a will in a way that benefits the influencer often to the detriment of traditional beneficiaries. Here are four signs someone may have exerted undue influence over your father’s will.
1. Too much participation
While there is nothing inherently wrong with having a friend, family member or someone else help draft a will, too much participation from a nonprofessional may be a sign of undue influence.
2. Recent or unexplainable changes
If the will you review after your father’s death has recent or unexplainable changes from a version you saw before, someone may have convinced him to rework it. This is especially true if the will adds or removes beneficiaries.
3. Secrecy or isolation
When writing a will, it is common to ask beneficiaries about their wishes. If your father wrote his will secretly or in isolation, you may want to scrutinize it for evidence of undue influence.
4. Special relationships
In the final stages of his life, your dad may have developed special relationships with caregivers or others. If the will leaves considerable assets to a new friend, the friend may have played an impermissible role in its drafting.
Ultimately, your father was free to leave assets to special friends or anyone else he chose. If a person unduly influenced your dad’s will, though, you may have to contest the will to protect his true wishes.