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The problem of undue influence

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2022 | Estate planning |

Many people in Georgia have created estate plans to protect themselves and their assets and specify their wishes for the future. When creating a will, a testator must be of sound mind and able to make all decisions regarding the plans for the estate. However, sometimes, others try to influence the testator for their own benefit. Undue influence can create serious problems for rightful heirs and beneficiaries of the estate and can lead to a contest of the will or other estate litigation. 

Undue influence explained 

Undue influence occurs when an individual has a close personal relationship with the testator and uses that relationship to try and persuade the testator to change his or her will or create a will that includes the influencer. In many cases, the relationship between the influencer and the testator is one where the influencer is in a power position over the testator in some manner, and the influencer uses that status to convince the testator to include the influencer in the will or make that individual a beneficiary of other assets. This can effectively infringe upon the ability of the testator to exercise his or her free will. 

Depending on the status of the estate and the assets involved, undue influence can create a situation in which the unscrupulous influencer stands to gain a considerable amount in the estate settlement. If the issue is raised in probate court, the influencer will be expected to show he or she was not acting in bad faith or trying to gain an advantage over other heirs and beneficiaries. Depending on the relationship between the influencer and testator, this can become complicated to challenge. 

Legal options 

Many times, the victims can petition to have the will or other documents voided if they can show undue influence. Litigation involving undue influence or other estate-related matters can be emotionally charged and complex. Those who feel their loved ones were unduly influenced to change their wills or include another party as a beneficiary will want to consult with an experienced estate litigation attorney in Georgia.