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Preventing Undue Influence Claims

 Posted on April 09, 2024 in Estate Planning and Administration

TX estate lawyerUndue influence is one of the more commonly used grounds for a will contest, as it is fairly easy to claim. It is not unusual for one beneficiary to spend more time around the testator than other beneficiaries. Normally, this is due to geographical proximity. An elderly person may have one adult son or daughter who lives locally while her other children are scattered around the country. The problem arises when the beneficiary who sees the testator more frequently is favored in the will. The other beneficiaries - or even someone who was omitted from the will - may claim that the person who spent more time alone with the testator exercised undue influence. If you are concerned that someone who will likely survive you may make such a claim, a Cleburne, TX will contest attorney can help you strategize to prevent this dispute from ever occurring.

What is Undue Influence? 

Undue influence is when another person manipulates the testator into writing a will in his or her favor by taking advantage of an ailing testator’s mental state, isolating the testator, or unfairly pressuring the testator into favoring him or her in the will.

Proving Undue Influence 

The problem with undue influence claims is that they are easy to create the appearance of but difficult to prove. The simple fact that a person who was favored in the will spent significant time alone with the testator can be used to show that the beneficiary may have put pressure on the testator to give them more than his or her fair share. Undue influence can be as simple as disparaging the other beneficiaries or trying to guilt the testator into giving him or her a greater share of the estate.

Preventing the Appearance of Undue Influence

It makes logical sense that an elderly person may want to reward the person who stayed to care for her or allowed her to move in during her golden years. However, this arrangement also opens the door for others to claim that the person who cared for the testator exercised undue influence.

Testators can reduce the appearance of undue influence by meeting with their attorneys alone and by putting their thought processes into writing. A letter stating that you are leaving the son you lived with in your later years extra money to thank him for his help may make it harder for the daughter you rarely saw or heard from to claim that your son pressured you into giving him an extra gift.

Contact a Cleburne, TX Wills Attorney

Cain & Kiel Law is highly experienced in helping testators create strong wills that are unlikely to be contested. Hood County, TX estate planning lawyer Scott Cain has served as the mayor of Cleburne, TX since 2012 and understands the needs of the locals. Contact us at 817-645-1717 for a confidential consultation.

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