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What are the signs of undue influence?

Probate is the process through which a deceased person’s estate is administered and assets are disseminated among heirs. Unfortunately, things can go wrong during the California probate process. This includes claims of undue influence.

Examples of undue influence

In the context of probate litigation, undue influence can be defined as strategies used to convince or force a person to take actions against their own interest or without consideration of the consequences. Undue influence most often involves the specific terms or signing of a will being forced by another party. Undue influence can take different forms. This includes:

  • harassment
  • blackmail
  • coercion
  • emotional abuse
  • extortion
  • forced isolation
  • improper pressure
  • manipulation
  • physical abuse
  • relationship poisoning
  • threats

The evidence of undue influence

Sadly, almost anyone with a relationship with the victim can perpetrate undue influence to change the terms of a will. However, evidence that undue influence was used can be presented in a probate lawsuit. This can include:

  • evidence of forced isolation from friends and family members
  • evidence of physical abuse such as audio recordings of yelling or threats
  • lack of mental coherence to make decisions
  • out of character behavior
  • scars, marks and other signs of physical abuse
  • the accused tries to speak for the decision maker
  • unwell health or mental state of the decision maker

Sadly, when money and other valuable assets are at stake, people we trust, such as physical caretakers, may try to take advantage of an elderly or sick person. Thankfully, the law contains mechanisms to stop undue influence from stopping heirs from being swindled out of their inheritance.