Signs of Undue Influence
When you have an elderly or disabled loved one, it’s easy to become concerned that the people caring for them or spending extended amounts of time with them are pressuring them into choices outside of their control. In many cases, this fear is unfounded but, when your loved one passes and suddenly elements of their will have been changed, your worst nightmare has been confirmed. Knowing the signs of undue influence can protect your elderly loved ones and allow you to be an advocate on their behalf.
What Does Undue Influence Typically Mean?
In general, undue influence occurs when someone who is in a position of trust or power pressures another individual to act in a way that is not in their best interest. In British Columbia wills, this may include:
- Large assets of the estate going to a caretaker who has mentally abused the testator;
- Family members being left out of wills;
- Family members being painted as villainous to the testator, leading them to believe that what they are doing is justified; and/or
- Physical control
Unfortunately, undue influence is often hard to determine until it’s too late because it happens in secret. But there are ways to see the signs of undue influence while the testator is still alive.
Signs of Undue Influence: British Columbia Wills Variation
There are often red flags that family members need to be mindful of when third parties are involved in the care and overseeing of an elderly or disabled loved one. Signs of undue influence include:
- Isolation: One of the most tell-tale signs of undue influence is when the testator becomes isolated from family members and friends without reason. In general, this occurs to make it easier for the individual to take advantage of the testator and to persuade them without interference.
- Control: It’s one thing to be involved, but when the third party does not allow the testator to be alone, attend meetings, go to the bank or doctors, or even be at family gatherings, undue influence may be occurring.
- Changes: Changes to be mindful of are not only physical and emotional isolation and control, but family members need to pay attention to signs of fear and abuse. In addition, if estate planning documents suddenly change, such as insurance forms, jointly owned accounts, powers of attorney, etc., family members need to be aware as this is often the most obvious sign of undue influence. If the third party providing care is suddenly the main beneficiary, seek legal guidance right away.
We would hope for the best in people; that they would not abuse a position of power to take advantage of an elderly or disabled loved one. But unfortunately, it happens more often than we realize.
If you believe your loved one is or was a victim of undue influence, ask questions about their end-of-life wishes, seek legal information on the creation of these estate planning documents, and keep notes of the interactions with the third party and testator.
Undue Influence: Klein Lawyers LLP
If you have a loved one who you believe is or was a victim of undue influence, the time to act is now. When people in positions of trust or power take advantage of the elderly or disabled, justice needs to be pursued. At Klein Lawyers, our estate litigation lawyers will review the will and navigate the legality of your undue influence claim, ensuring you get what is rightfully yours.
Contact Klein Lawyers at (604) 874-7171 today for a free, confidential case evaluation. Our wills variation lawyers serve clients throughout British Columbia from offices in Vancouver, Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley, and Surrey.