When a loved one passes away, the estate administration process can be quite eye-opening. Some may have questions about the status of their loved one’s estate due to the contents of their will. Sometimes, undue influence is suspected of having played a role in the will creation process. When undue influence is believed to be a problem, in the state of Massachusetts, any concerned parties can file will contests to officially challenge the validity of this legal document.
What exactly is undue influence? Some older individuals have unhealthy relationships with friends, family members or various professionals — such as doctors or financial advisors, among others. These relationships may cause them to make decisions that do not serve their interests or the interests of their beneficiaries. The influencers in their lives have such a power over them; they will do anything to please them — even to the point where they may be persuaded enough to change their wills to benefit only their influencers.
How does a person gain so much power over another? An influencer may isolate the victim so that he or she feels there is no one else they can turn to for help or companionship — the victim is solely dependent on this individual. An influencer may frequently bring up the need for the victim to make changes to his or her estate — this individual may even obtain the legal documents necessary to make these changes. An influencer will take advantage of the victim when he or she is most vulnerable, such as after the death of a spouse or after experiencing a medical crisis — among other things.
No one wants to see their loved ones taken advantage of in the last years of their lives. Unfortunately, it happens, and it can make the loss of a loved one even more difficult to bear. Those who believe that undue influence contributed to their loved one’s estate planning decisions may seek assistance filing will contests in a Massachusetts court. Evidence to back up claims of undue influence is necessary for the court to take such claims seriously. Legal counsel can review one’s case and help one decide if filing such a claim is appropriate.