Undue influence happens when an outside party exerts pressure on an individual causing that individual to adjust their estate plans to the benefit of the influencer. In simple terms, this can often refer to one person taking advantage of another. A live in care provider to your elderly loved one, for example, might exert undue influence on a loved one, convincing that elderly family member to update their estate plan so that it significantly benefits the care provider.
In many cases the influencer could be involved in separating the family member from his or her loved ones to create a direct sense of connection and dependency. Those individuals suffering from a form of dementia, people with disabilities and elderly people are most susceptible to the impact of undue influence. It’s important to note that the influencer could be a person outside or inside the family.
If you suspect that your loved one was a victim of undue influence that caused significant changes to an existing estate plan, you can contest the trust or will that was updated at the influencer’s request once the estate has been admitted to probate. There are a few different factors that the court will explore when determining whether or not undue influence was at play.
These primary indicators can include unexpected gifts, whether or not the testator was isolated, the testator’s mental and physical state at the time of the updated estate plan, and scrutinizing any special relationships that the testator had with the influencer. For more information about avoiding undue influence in your own estate plan and protecting your interests now, set up a time to sit down and discuss your estate plan with a lawyer. Need more support or have specific questions about your NJ estate plan? Set up a time to speak with our trusted estate planning lawyers in NJ.