When deciding what will happen with your estate upon death, you must have the capacity and freedom to make your own decisions. Unfortunately, in undue influence cases in California, someone can manipulate an individual into making estate planning decisions in their favor rather than in favor of the individual or those close to them.
What is undue influence?
When someone exerts undue influence over an estate plan, they are unlawfully manipulating that person to gain some advantage. In terms of estate planning, this means that someone is convincing or forcing another person to change their will or estate plan to benefit the person exerting the influence. This can be done through coercion, manipulation, or even threats. Undue influence can have a devastating effect on an estate plan. It can lead to family members being estranged from one another.
How to know if someone is exerting undue influence over your estate plan
Suppose you feel like you are being pressured to make changes to your will or other estate planning documents. In that case, this may be a sign that someone is trying to exert undue influence. It’s important to follow your gut in these situations and take the time to make sure you are making changes for the right reasons.
If someone is constantly talking to you about your estate plan and trying to get you to change things, this may also be a sign of undue influence. This person may be trying to take advantage of your lack of knowledge about estate planning and manipulate you into leaving them more than they deserve.
Suppose someone starts giving you large gifts or loans with the expectation that they will be repaid from your estate after you die. In that case, this is a definite sign of undue influence. This person is likely trying to secure their place in your will so they can inherit more than they would otherwise be entitled to.
What to do about undue influence
If you see any of these signs, it’s important to take action to protect your estate plan from undue influence. Review your estate plan to ensure that any changes you make to your estate plan align with your wishes, not someone else’s.