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Undue Influence: How an Effective Estate Plan Protects Your Assets

estate planning Cedar Park, TX

Typically, those who are planning their estates entrust professionals and family members to offer them sound guidance and abide by their wishes. Unfortunately, this trust is sometimes betrayed, particularly in cases where an individual exerts undue influence on the person planning their estate. When this happens, an individual’s assets and wishes are at risk. Keep reading to learn more about undue influence in estate planning or contact the Law Offices of Stephanie Hon to speak to an estate planning attorney.

 

What Is Undue Influence?

Undue influence occurs when someone exerts pressure on an individual to influence them to act contrary to their wishes or in a way that benefits the influencer. A typical example of undue influence is someone persuading another individual to change their will to benefit the influencer, which often harms other family members. 

Keep in mind that discussing a will with someone with the intent of receiving benefits is not necessarily undue influence. This is true even if the will is subsequently modified for that individual’s benefit, so long as it is done freely and without coercion. On the other hand, undue influence occurs when a person uses manipulation or other tactics to get an individual to act contrary to their own free will. Examples of undue influence include:

  • Deception
  • Threats
  • Harassment 

Characteristics that may be indicative of undue influence include: 

  • Vulnerability — A person may be vulnerable to undue influence if they are ill, elderly, or lack cognitive functioning. The elderly are especially susceptible to undue influence if they have dementia.
  • Dependence — A person exerting undue influence may attempt to make the victim feel dependent on them by controlling their finances or medical care.
  • Isolation – A person may isolate a victim from their friends and family to control the victim’s life and ensure that friends and family will not intervene.

 

How to Avoid a Legal Battle

The best way to avoid a legal battle over undue influence on a will or estate is to discuss these plans with family members openly. That way, heirs are aware of an individual’s wishes and will not be surprised later. In addition, it’s essential to communicate your wishes to your attorney explicitly. They can clearly articulate your wishes in your estate plan or will. 

An experienced estate planning attorney can help you create an effective estate plan that will protect your assets should someone try to exert undue influence on you or another family member. This can include implementing legal instruments such as power of attorney. If you suspect there may be disputes about your estate plan, you should mention this to your attorney immediately.

The earlier you act, the better. That way, your plans will be apparent to loved ones from the start, decreasing the chances of someone exerting undue influence to get what they want. Speaking to an estate attorney can help you avoid future disputes.

 

Contact an Experienced Lawyer

If you are planning your estate, you should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Law Offices of Stephanie Hon at (512) 888-9378 to speak with an estate planning lawyer today. You can schedule a 15-minute initial discussion online to learn more.

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Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.