After the death of a loved one, friends and family members left behind will have the responsibility of settling his or her estate. This can be a lengthy process, but you want to be sure to respect the wishes of the decedent, so you will follow the terms outlined in his or her will. In most cases, you can feel confident that a will is an accurate representation of what he or she wanted. However, there are times when loved ones may have concerns about the accuracy of a will.
If you are reviewing a will and things do not seem right, it is possible that undue influence affected the drafting of that legal document. Challenging a will is a complex process, but it may be necessary for your family to do this in order to protect the interests of the proper heirs and beneficiaries. You may find it helpful to learn about what undue influence is and the legal options available to your Pennsylvania family.
Identifying undue influence
A basic definition of undue influence is an individual’s ability to affect another person’s decisions in a way that benefits him or her. This is often at the personal cost of others or the person experiencing this type of negative influence. It typically occurs when one person is in a position of power over another, such as a caretaker and his or her patient. It is not always easy to prove that your loved one was the victim of undue influence, and you may have to look for certain signs that could indicate a problem.
Your loved one may have changed his or her will under the influence of another person who was simply after financial gain or other benefits. If your loved one changed his or her will without warning, made significant changes without discussing these modifications or included terms that do not make sense, it may be the result of undue influence.
What can your family do?
If you suspect undue influence affected the terms of your loved one’s will, it may be helpful for your family to explore the option of challenging the will. Will contests are complex processes, but this may be the ideal option for ensuring that you are able to protect the estate of the decedent and ensure that assets go to the right people.