Why is undue influence a problem?

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2020 | Estate Planning |

One reason for estate plan challenges is undue influence. Essentially, it means that one person influenced the other to change their estate plan, and that change financially benefited the first person. 

Rather than just accepting that this is a problem, you may find yourself wondering why. If you talked to your parents and asked them to leave more money to you than to your sibling, and if they agreed to it, isn’t that their right? You understand why your sibling would be mad about it, of course, but the fact that they don’t like it doesn’t make it illegal. 

You’re not wrong. Your parents do have the right to give different amounts to different people and you have the right to talk to them about their decisions. The issue with undue influence — where it differs from the example provided above — is that one person is in a position of power and the other is in a position of weakness. This allows the person in power to exploit it to get the other person to make changes that go against their own free will. 

For instance, if you are a caretaker for a sick parent and you tell them you won’t help them anymore unless they give you more money as compensation, that’s undue influence. You are threatening them based on their weakness and exploiting your own power as a caretaker. You can see how different that is than simply talking to them about their beneficiary decisions. 

When estate disputes occur, it’s important for all involved to understand their legal rights