Estate holders have the right to designate the distribution of their assets as they please. However, sometimes, other people may try to weigh in on that decision, whether directly or indirectly.
In cases where family members of an estate holder do not agree with the estate holder's will, they may choose to negate in court. To support their case, they may state undue influence as a catalyst for the designation. It is important to understand a few key aspects of this claim.
What it is
In short, undue influence occurs when a party close to a will holder uses his or her influence to convince the will holder to make estate distributions contrary to the will holder's natural inclination or desire. The most common example is that of a caretaker for an elderly patient convincing the patient to leave the caretaker part or a majority of the patient's assets in the will.
Different from dutiful care
In today's society, it is quite common for adult children to take care of their aging parents and grandparents. If those parents or grandparents have other family members but leave a larger portion of assets to the party who took care of them, the other family members may try to claim undue influence. Such cases do not always stand in court, seeing as a family member caring for another family member is a form of dutiful care. In such cases, it is reasonable to believe the will holder's natural desire to leave a greater portion of assets to that family member.
If the court determines that undue influence played a part in the creation of the will, the court deems the will invalid. At that point, the judge would follow the state's will laws and utilize discretion in determining the proper distribution of the estate.
Whether a party seeks to contest or defend a will contest, having proper evidence to support the argument is key. It may also be beneficial to become familiar with state will laws.