The intent of creating an estate plan is to have control over certain details of the future. For example, creating a will can provide one with the ability to have the final say over what happens to personal property after passing. Other estate planning documents can provide control over the type of medical care one could want in case of incapacitation. The decisions made by the individual creating the plan are personal, unique and based off individual experiences and objectives.
However, there are times when an outside influence could impact the terms of one’s estate plan. Through undue influence, a person could cause someone to change terms in an existing estate plan or create a new plan that benefits that individual. Undue influence can negatively impact intended heirs and beneficiaries, and it can be grounds for one to take legal action. If you suspect this happened to your loved one, you may benefit from learning what steps you can take on behalf of your Minnesota family.
Recognizing signs of a problem
You may not be aware that there is a potential problem with your loved one’s will until it is time to settle the estate. You may believe that what is in the current version of the will does not match what you know about your loved one, which could indicate a problem. Undue influence can happen in different situations, but it involves one person exercising his or her power over another individual, often for financial gain.
It is possible that another person or party exercised undue influence over your loved one through manipulation, threats, insinuation, lies and other means. Older individuals may be particularly vulnerable to this, especially if the person exercising this influence is a person who is familiar to your loved one or in a position of trust.
Is there grounds for a will contest?
Simply disliking the terms of a loved one’s will is not enough to contest the will. However, clear signs of a problem, such as sudden and unexpected changes to the terms of an estate plan, could be an indication of undue influence. If you believe there is a problem with your loved one’s will, you may benefit from seeking an assessment of your case and evaluation of your concerns. This can provide you with insight regarding your legal options, which may include formally challenging the will and advocating for rightful heirs and beneficiaries in court.