Estate planning is a serious and important part of anyone’s long-term life plans. This includes things like selecting beneficiaries and executors, creating wills and trusts, and more.
Unfortunately, this is also where people with ill intent may attempt to exert influence over a person creating an estate plan, and the consequences can affect every loved one of the deceased individual.
How undue influence works
Cornell Law School defines undue influence in a legal context. It involves two people: the manipulator, and the victim. The manipulator will exert different forms of manipulation and control in order to gain several things out of the victim. In most cases, they will either aim for an unfairly large portion of assets from the estate itself, or more power to oversee the estate.
Tactics manipulators use
The manipulator will have several tactics that they use in order to gain control of the victim and their estate. Isolation tactics often play a big role, with the manipulator doing whatever they can to ensure outside sources cannot interfere with their plans. This can include the manipulator telling loved ones they cannot visit due to illnesses, appointments or other scheduling conflicts.
The manipulator will also often take matters into their hands directly, such as tricking the victim into signing documents that give away their rights or that give the manipulator even more legal power and control over them and their estate.
Since the victim often does not have the mental standing to figure out what is happening and fight back, it is often up to their loved ones to see through the trick and stand up for them. This is why it is important to contact legal aid in the event of suspecting undue influence.