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Who can exert undue influence on an estate?

On Behalf of | Nov 27, 2023 | Estate Planning

An Arkansas estate plan could include multiple documents or just a will. The testator might do all of their planning in their last years of life or consistently revisit documents that they drafted years ago. People should be able to trust that the terms of an estate plan are the testator’s wishes. If there are questions about that fact, the matter may lead to probate litigation.

The will and other documents in an Arkansas estate plan should reflect the terms chosen by the testator. They select their beneficiaries and determine who should inherit what assets from the estate. Unfortunately, there may be many people who would like to inherit from an estate and expect to, and some people will engage in unethical behavior to obtain an inheritance.

Some people will exert undue influence on a testator to obtain more of an inheritance than they deserve. Who is most likely to be in a position to affect what terms a testator sets?

Caregivers could abuse their roles

Undue influence involves intentionally using a relationship with an individual to alter their estate plan. Often, allegations of undue influence arise when a caregiver receives a disproportionate amount of someone’s estate. The caregiver could be someone’s spouse, a child, a grandchild or even an outside professional.

These individuals are in a position to leverage their relationship with the testator for personal gain. They could do so by harming their other relationships or even threatening someone’s access to food and medicine. If a caregiver directly benefited from sudden changes to an estate plan, other beneficiaries may have reason to question the validity of those changes.

Raising allegations of undue influence can help family members preserve someone’s true legacy intentions after the inappropriate influence of an outside party. Having legal guidance if you are considering doing this is wise.