Questions About Undue Influence?

Call Our San Francisco Probate Litigation Attorneys for Legal Advice

Photo of frequently asked questionsPeople in an elderly person’s life sometimes attempt to exert pressure on the elderly person to alter a will or trust to receive unmerited benefits. This harmful and unlawful behavior is known as undue influence. If you believe it affected your loved one, then our probate litigation attorneys can help you. For over 35 years, the Triay Law Office has served those affected by probate disputes.

The following questions and answers are not legal advice, and every situation is different. Our lawyers are available to provide legal advice for people throughout northern California during an in-person consultation. Call our law office now so that we can see how we can help you.

Frequently Asked Questions about Undue Influence

Who causes undue influence?

Unfortunately, some individuals want to take advantage of vulnerable people, including the elderly. The person who commits undue influence to gain personal benefit may be a friend or relative of the elderly person. Those who provide a service for the elderly person, such as in-home caretakers or nursing home staff, may also attempt to take advantage of this person.

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What actions are considered undue influence?

What constitutes undue influence is a gray area that will always be fact specific. In some cases, an elderly person will alter or update a will to leave a larger gift to a caretaker or favorite relative who has been a source of support near the end of the person’s life. This is not undue influence.

However, if this friend or caretaker used improper means to coerce your loved one to significantly alter the will, this may constitute undue influence. If this person threatens your loved one and forces him or her to change a will, then that is also undue influence.

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Can I claim undue influence after my loved one passes away?

In many cases, relatives may not know what caused a loved one to leave them out of a will until after that loved one dies. Often, the person who commits undue influence attempts to hide the act until the loved one passes. When this happens, family members and others can still take their case to probate court. It may then may result in the judge declaring a will defective.

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How can I prevent undue influence from affecting my loved one?

If you are worried about your loved one suffering from undue influence, then the best way to prevent this is frequent and regular communications and visits. Make sure your loved one is comfortable speaking to you about anything that may be bothering him or her. Isolation can leave an elderly person particularly vulnerable to financial exploitation and abuse.

If you believe someone is currently taking advantage of your loved one, then talk to an attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can work with you to explore your options. If your loved one has a lack of capacity and cannot make rational decisions, then you may need to ask a court to appoint a conservator.

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How can I prove undue influence occurred?

Proving undue influence can be difficult. However, a knowledgeable probate litigation lawyer can give you an excellent opportunity to resolve the issue. Courts may rely on witnesses who knew your loved one well and may ask them to describe the relationship between your loved one and the person accused of undue influence. If you can prove that your loved one depended or trusted this person or that a medical issue made your loved one vulnerable to influence, the will may be declared defective.

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How to Get Support for Undue Influence Cases

When undue influence affects beneficiaries and others involved in a probate process, our firm can provide legal support. The Triay Law Office can guide you through probate mediation or litigation. Call our law office now at (510)463-3165.