Sometimes, people manipulate or take advantage of others who are in vulnerable situations. When it comes to real estate planning, such cases can amount to undue influence, invalidating any legally binding agreements that may have been entered into. For instance, as a person ages, they may start to lose their mental and physical capabilities. They are at their most vulnerable at that point, and a loved one might try to disrupt their estate succession plans based purely on self-interest.
In most cases, everything comes to light after the person has died since the manipulator likely kept any last-minute changes hidden from everyone else. However, it is not too late for those who suspect foul play. Relatives or beneficiaries can take their case to a probate court, and if they succeed in proving undue influence, the will or trust agreement can be ruled invalid.
Proving Undue Influence
To prove undue influence, you must show that the grantor acted under a person’s influence when coming up with the terms of the trust. That person’s action must go beyond mere nagging. Their behavior needs to be so extreme or apparent that the aging loved one had to give in and modify their estate plans.
Trust litigation based on undue influence can arise from several scenarios. One example is when a beneficiary was disinherited or felt like they were not allocated the inheritance they were promised. Another situation is when the beneficiary who took care of the deceased received a significantly larger share of the estate, which the other beneficiaries believe is unfair. Either way, it is essential to be conversant with the law regarding such a sensitive matter. Modifying some types of trusts can be a complex process, and it would help if you make informed decisions throughout your case.
Notice: We are providing this as general information only, and it should not be considered legal advice, which depends on the facts of each specific situation. Receipt of this content does not establish an attorney-client relationship.