When your loved one’s will was read, you were shocked. It was nothing like the will they told you about. It wasn’t at all what you expected, and your inheritance no longer existed.
They never told you that you’d be removed from the will or their estate plan as a beneficiary, and yet you find yourself in that position. Instead of you, a new caregiver has been named to receive an inheritance.
Should you suspect undue influence played a role in this decision?
It’s possible that the caregiver had an undue influence on your loved one or manipulated them into changing their will. If you believe that is what happened, then it’s important to start gathering evidence as quickly as you can.
For example, if your family member already had a degenerative health condition, did they have the capacity to change the will? Were they able to comprehend the changes they were making? A good example of when they shouldn’t be making changes is if they have lapses in memory or confuse one person with another.
What should you do if you suspect undue influence?
If you believe that a person manipulated your relative into changing their estate plan, it’s time to take action. You’ll need to contact an attorney as soon as possible to begin a claim for undue influence using the evidence that you have established.
To win a case for undue influence, it must be shown that undue influence was exercised against your loved one with the object of procuring a will in favor of particular parties. In order to sustain an allegation of undue influence, you must prove: (1) that the testator was “susceptible;” (2) that another person had the opportunity to exert the influence; (3) that improper influence was exerted or attempted; and (4) that the influence had the desired effect.
You’ll want to have as much evidence as possible, such as notes or letters from your family member, copies of the previous will, witness statements from those who knew about the changes and other important information for the court. Having medical paperwork that details that your loved one wasn’t able to comprehend the changes they were making or wasn’t physically capable of making those changes may also help you prove your case in court.
All is not lost if you find out that a will has been altered, but you do need to take action quickly to fight for your inheritance and the assets that you were supposed to receive from the will that was recently updated. Your attorney will help you put together a comprehensive case against the new will to try to get the court to invalidate it.