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How can undue influence harm a person’s estate plan?

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2023 | blog, Estate Administration |

Estate planning is a process aimed at securing one’s assets and ensuring the smooth transition of wealth to beneficiaries. However, lurking beneath the surface of this seemingly straightforward task is the potential for undue influence.

Undue influence happens when an individual puts pressure on another, leading them to make decisions that they otherwise would not. This force can significantly harm a person’s estate plan, creating a web of complications.

Poor decision-making

At the heart of estate planning lies the delicate task of decision-making. From distributing assets to choosing guardians, every choice made has important implications.

Undue influence, often subtle and insidious, can compromise the autonomy of decision-making. In such cases, vulnerable individuals may find themselves forced into making choices that align more with the influencer’s interests than their own.

Unraveled family ties

Family dynamics are intricate, and undue influence can strain even the closest bonds. In the context of estate planning, manipulation by a family member or close associate can lead to fractures within the family.

Siblings may find themselves pitted against each other, disputing the validity of decisions made under the influence. The aftermath of such discord can irreparably damage familial relationships, leaving a legacy of resentment and mistrust.

Financial consequences

Estate planning is fundamentally about preserving and transferring wealth. Undue influence, however, can divert these financial resources away from their intended destinations. Beneficiaries may find themselves shortchanged as a result of manipulated decisions.

35% of American adults in a study stated that conflicts happened in their families because of estate plans not being in place. When going to prepare these documents, the specter of undue influence looms in the background. By taking proactive measures to guard against this problem, individuals can ensure that their estate plans stand as true reflections of their wishes.