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Undue influence: Don't let it cost you an inheritance

For as long as you can remember, your father always told you that you'd inherit the estate. You're an only child, and you have been there for him during his time in need.

When your father passed away, you prepared to take over the estate and to take care of business. You were shocked, and rightly so, when you discovered you hadn't inherited anything. Instead, your father had willed away the estate to someone who cared for him in the nursing home. You suspect that something isn't right, and you may be correct. Undue influence on a person can result in changes to wills or trusts, and it can make it hard for you to inherit what is rightfully yours. Fortunately, you can contest the will if you believe that your father was influenced to change it prior to his death.

What is undue influence?

By law, undue influence is when a person deprives another of freedom of choice or substitutes his or her choice against that person's desire. For example, if the worker who is now named in the will had appeared to your father while he was in a state of dementia, your father might have thought it was you suggesting the changes to his will. It's very important to be able to show undue influence in court, and being able to prove your father's inability to make good decisions due to mental impairment could help the court rule in your favor.

If you need to prove that your father was mentally impaired, you may need to present medical information to the court. Having a specialist speak to the severity of your father's condition may also help. Once this is done, the court can decide if the inheritance should revert and be given to you as originally intended.

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