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Monday, October 25, 2010

Wills and undue influence

"Undue influence" refers to coercing or manipulating someone into changing their Will. It's always a change that favours the person doing the influencing. It usually happens not long before a person, weak or sick, passes away. In law, a Will that was made under undue influence can be contested in court, because it does not reflect the true wishes of the testator. Even though the testator signs the Will, it becomes clear that he or she only signed it because of the undue influence.

The person who coerces, manipulates or influences an elderly person to change the Will may be what is often called a "recent friend", someone new on the scene who seems to be interested only in the elderly person's money. Believe me, elderly people can be very vulnerable to this, particularly if they are lonely or frightened of being alone.

However, it's not just recent friends that pull this kind of thing. Coercion, manipulation and influence are sometimes also applied by an elderly person's children. At times I'm shocked at the utter coldness of people's children when there is money involved. Other perpetrators are caregivers of the elderly person, neighbours and other relatives such as nieces and nephews.

I'm attaching an article here that appears on the Wills and Estates Blog on Lexis-Nexis.com. It reviews the Texas case of The Estate of Eugene Clifford Everett. It sets out the facts of the case pretty clearly and concisely. My guess is that a number of my readers will recognize the scenario, based on some of the questions I receive.  Read it not just to understand what constitutes undue influence, but to see what the courts did about it. Yes, this case is from Texas, but we have legislation here to deal with undue influence as well.

1 comment:

  1. My aunt passed and a few days before she changed her will to take out her brother due to a family argument she was dying of stage 4 cancer. On morphine and other medications and very weak confused she signed it two days before she passed away. Problem is the whole will changed left the bulk share to her nephew whose daughter was with the lawyer while it was being written. Leaving out people who everyone knew was suppose to be in it by his own words and the other copies of the will. They said they have a list of where the money is suppose to go. By his wishes. Which was not registered with the will. My worry they are just saying this to stop anyone from contesting the will. My twins were to get a lot of money which she had said to a lot of family members is what she wanted and was in every other will . The only reason the first was changed was to add the twins and second one was to add property and the beneficiary of that. Is this legal in any way. All wills are still around.

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