I’m Here To Help; Call 916-894-8632 Today

Law Office of Matthew D. Scott

Skilled Legal Counsel, Focused On You

How does undue influence actually work?

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2024 | Estate Planning

Some estate disputes are based around the idea of undue influence. This can be used as a reason to challenge a will or an estate plan. By claiming undue influence, someone is just saying that another party influenced the person who is writing the estate plan, encouraging them to make key changes.

For example, maybe one child was supposed to receive 50% of the inheritance, while the other 50% would go to their sibling. But their parent updated the will in the last month before they died, leaving 90% to one sibling and 10% to the other. The sibling who received less may believe that there was undue influence on the part of the other sibling.

But why does this actually work? Couldn’t the parent simply refuse to make the changes?

Manipulation and power

There are two main ways that undue influence works, and the first is when a person is in a position of power. An example of this is when an elderly individual has physical needs or medical needs and is receiving care and assistance from the child. That child could use this position, threatening to withhold this care unless the requested changes are made to the estate plan.

But there can also be forms of manipulation that have nothing to do with power. For instance, one sibling may lie about the other, convincing their parent to change the estate plan based on these untruths. Maybe they make up stories about drug use, frivolous spending or lifestyle decisions that they know their parent wouldn’t agree with. This is just a form of manipulation.

If you think that undue influence has occurred, it’s crucial to understand exactly what legal options you have.