Undue Influence Claims
Undue influence is a form of elder abuse. It means excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person’s free will and results in inequity.
In the estate planning world, undue influence is often alleged against a beneficiary based on the belief that the beneficiary unfairly caused the testator to change their Will or Trust to give that beneficiary more than their fair share. Commonly, these types of allegations are raised against an elder’s new spouse, love interest, or caregiver, who develops a close relationship with the Testator late in life.
The courts assess undue influence by considering the vulnerability of the victim, the influencer’s apparent authority, the actions or tactics used by the alleged influencer, and the equity of the result. When a party enters a transaction and is later found to have been unduly influenced to enter it, the transaction may need unwinding. Different statutes apply to each type of document that may need unwinding including: a Will, a Trust, an Advance Health Care Directive, a Power of Attorney, a real property Deed, or another type of contract.
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