A person’s Last Will and Testament is a valuable legal document that should reflect his or her wishes concerning property distribution and care of his or her children. A Will can also provide critical guidance and direction to loved ones during an upsetting time. However, it can only accomplish these things if it is valid.
One reason a Will may not be valid is if the testator (the person creating the Will) was unduly influenced. Undue influence involves coercion, threats, or other means of pressuring a person into creating a Will that does not truly reflect his or her wishes. Below are some signs of undue influence.
Signs of undue influence
Indications of undue influence on your loved one might include:
- Increasing dependence on the influencing party
- Inability or unwillingness to meet or talk with loved ones without the influencing party
- Unexplained and significant changes in appearance, attitude or abilities
- Changes in a person’s care that do not align with his or her wishes (moving into a nursing home, termination of in-home care support, etc.)
- Increased or sudden withdrawal from loved ones
- Financial transactions that deviate from a person’s previous wishes
- Placing an unusual amount of trust in a position of power
These signs suggest that a vulnerable person may not be in complete control of his or her decisions. Victims may be scared of the influencing party or feel that they have no choice but to do what he or she says. They may be confused or misinformed, leading to unusual or unwise decisions.
Protecting your loved one
Ideally, concerned loved ones would be able to identify and put a stop to this type of relationship before a victim does something like create a Will. This could happen through frequent check-ins, legal measures like power of attorney, or calls to law enforcement or Adult Protective Services.
Unfortunately, many people do not learn of potential undue influence until after the person passes away. His or her Will may include suspicious changes or clauses that do not align with his or her beliefs, values or stated wishes.
In these cases, legal guidance can be crucial in seeking to possibly invalidate a will. To learn more, contact an estate planning and administration attorney at the Quinn Law Firm by calling 814-833-2222.