Coping with the death of a loved one can be painful enough without doubts about their will’s validity. This document is supposed to reflect a person’s last wishes, and it is a critical component of closing their estate and finalizing their affairs.
If someone created or changed their will without free will, the courts can deem the document invalid and set it aside. Thus, you should know some of the signs that a loved one is the victim of undue influence.
Signs to look for before a person passes away
Undue influence happens when an influencer coerces a person to create a will that benefits them, not the person making the will. Some signs that someone is attempting to coerce your loved one can include:
- Showing up out of the blue and becoming very close with the will-maker
- Isolating the victim
- Withholding care or medication to control the victim
- Being overly helpful
- Insisting on being present for any conversations regarding finances or estate planning
You can also look for signs in a loved one’s behaviours. A victim can be:
- Fearful of the influencer
- Unable to provide explanations for legal or financial decisions
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
If you see these signs, there may be someone trying to take advantage of your loved one.
Signs to look for in a will
Undue influence often does not become evident until a person passes away, and parties look at the will. At this point, it is impossible to consult the will-maker, so loved ones will need to look at the document for signs of influence or coercion.
Some of these signs you might see in a will include:
- Unusual requests without any context
- Surprising conditions that heavily favour someone who is not a close family member
- Terms that contradict statements your loved one had previously made
- Disinheritance of someone who had a bad relationship with the influencer
You should also pay attention to the timing of when a person made changes to their will. Do they align with specific events that involved the influencer?
If you suspect undue influence in someone’s will, it can be crucial to consider contesting a will. Doing so could protect your loved one’s legacy.