Undue influence refers to taking unfair advantage over another person’s weakness of body or mind and using it to produce an unfair advantage over someone. This comes up most frequently in the context of estate planning in which you might argue that a loved one has been unduly influenced by an outside party.
Imagine that one of your loved ones is handicapped, requires in-home care, is elderly or is experiencing cognitive decline due to an issue like dementia. Developing a close relationship with a caretaker could mean that this person is suddenly included in your loved one’s estate plans. This can be especially shocking when you are familiar with your elderly loved one’s current estate planning documents like a will and discover that a newly executed document is produced by this caretaker shortly after your family member passes away.
You could challenge the validity of this document by claiming that your loved one was unduly influenced by the caretaker. In this case, however, you’ll need to move quickly and promptly to ensure you have necessary evidence to support such a claim. Undue influence must be proven by the person who is arguing that it has occurred.
Therefore, you’ll need to produce indications of the loved one being unfit to sign such a new document close to their death that would name this new caretaker as a primary or the sole recipient of your loved one’s assets and belongings.
For more information about how to prevent claims of undue influence, schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney. Our NH estate planning lawyer can help you learn more about issues in estate planning and how best to protect the interests of an elder family member.