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What is undue influence in estate planning?

Smart residents of New Jersey understand the importance of having a comprehensive estate plan. After all, you work hard for the things you have in life. If you do not draft a will, you may have little control over what happens to your assets after you die. On the other hand, if you have a deceased loved one, relying on a well-drafted will to carry out his or her last wishes is important. 

In most cases, you can trust the plain language of a will. Still, wills are not perfect. If someone did not voluntarily write his or her will, you may need to contest it in court to protect your loved one’s interests. While there are a few grounds you can use to dispute a will, you may want to argue that its drafter was under undue influence. Here are some signs of undue influence in estate planning.

Your loved one had diminished mental capacity 

For a will to be effective, its writer must be of sound mind. Unfortunately, as people age, they often have diminished mental capacity. If your loved one could not make life decisions before death, he or she may have relied on someone else to make them. That person may have had too much control over what went into the will. 

Your loved one left assets to a caretaker 

Caretakers often do exceptional work. Still, they are in a place to exercise undue influence on aging patients. If your loved one left a significant amount of assets to a caretaker, the person may have had too much of a say in the will’s drafting. 

Your loved one changed his or her will before death 

There is nothing wrong with completely overhauling a will. Nonetheless, if your loved one changed his or her will in the days, weeks or months before death, someone may have been exercising undue influence. This is especially true if children and other heirs suddenly dropped out of the will. 

Contesting a will can be both stressful and sad. Still, if a will does not reflect your loved one’s wishes because of undue influence, you may need to object to it. Remember, you may be the only one who can stand up for your deceased loved one.


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Thomas N. Torzewski, LLC

Torzewski & McInerney, LLC
60 Washington St
Suite 104
Morristown, NJ 07960

Phone: 973-532-2868
Fax: 973-359-0077
Morristown Office Location