January 2023 Newsletter

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From The Certified Elder Law Attorney's Desk:

William W. “Bill” Erhart

What is Undue Influence?

Undue Influence is when someone pressures another in such a way that the person being influenced is not acting by their own free will; they are being coerced into taking a certain action. Undue influence often arises when a friend family member falls ill. For example, mom has been diagnosed with cancer and her boyfriend influences her to change her estate plan so that all mom’s assets go to him instead of to her kids. The plan is oftentimes carried out in secret and others don’t know about what has been done until after the one being influenced passes away.

Undue influence is an argument that can be brought up in court to undo what the bad actor has done. Continuing the above example, mom’s children can file a petition to have the boyfriend’s actions undone if the court finds that the boyfriend was guilty of undue influence on mom. A will can be thrown out, property transfers can be undone, and the bad actor’s name can be taken off accounts. In order to win a case for undue influence, one must prove not just that the decision maker was persuaded by another to take a certain action, but that the person was coerced. Meaning, either the influenced person did not have the capacity to make the decision, or they were tricked into doing so.

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