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Undue influences: Challenging changes to a will

Undue influence is defined as influencing a person's freedom of choice with his or her own choices. This could be a result of duress, where a person forces the other to make changes to his or her will or trust, coercion or necessity. The problem with undue influence is that it impacts people's estates. It may put their beneficiaries out thousands of dollars, and it could result in legal challenges.

For people who suspect undue influence, it's necessary to prove it took place. Otherwise, it won't be possible to contest the changes in most cases. You'll have to show that your parent or loved one was in the position to be unduly influenced. You'll also have to show that the other person had something to gain by influencing your loved one's estate. Finally, you're going to need to show that there was an opportunity for this influence to occur.

The possibility of becoming a victim

Becoming a victim of undue influences is something that could happen to almost any elderly person. As people age, they may begin to become forgetful or develop conditions that confuse them. Once a person is no longer able to make decisions in his or her right mind, he or she cannot make any legal decisions. If your mother or father had dementia, Alzheimer's disease or other conditions, it may be easier to show that he or she could be influenced easily.

What did the other party have to gain?

Next, you need to think about what the other party had to gain by influencing your parent. Did your parent give him or her all of the estate? Did the property you were entitled to end up in someone else's hands? What was there to gain, and why would the other person want it? That's what the court wants to know.

Opportunities have to exist

Finally, you'll have to show that the opportunity to influence your loved one did exist at one point or another. Maybe the person influencing him or her was an orderly at a hospital or a new and sudden friend who kept appearing at the nursing home. Regardless of who it is, you need to show that the person had the time and opportunity to get your parent to change the legal documents.

Undue influence has the potential to ruin your claims as a beneficiary and could leave you with less or nothing that you expected after a loved one's death. It's your right to challenge a will if you believe you have a strong enough case.

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