When someone creates an estate plan or related documents such as a will, it is important for the person to have a clear, unbiased frame of mind.
To that end, it is important to keep an eye out for the possibility of undue influence. What exactly is it, and how does it impact people?
Undue influence in estate planning
The University of Washington defines undue influence as the use of excessive reward, persuasion or authority to obtain compliance. In regard to the creation of estate plans, undue influence typically refers to situations in which the influencer attempts to exert control over their target, usually to gain a more favorable mention in their will or estate.
In the case of estate planning specifically, a unique concern is that the creator of the estate plan or will may not have full control over their faculties or a clear state of mind. This could happen because of age, mental health or physical illness.
What are influencers after?
In the event of undue influence, the influencer usually attempts to take advantage of the estate planner’s weakened state of mind. They will attempt to use any weakness they can find to get that more favorable mention.
Typically, these people want a bigger share of the assets in an estate. In some cases, they may want more control over the estate itself or the person the estate belongs to.
Regardless of their reason, it is illegal to exert undue influence. The loved ones of the target may take legal action if they believe this is happening.