What is Undue Influence – How Can it be Avoided?
Undue influence occurs when someone exerts pressure on an individual, causing that individual to act contrary to his or her wishes to the benefit of the influencer or the influencer’s friends. The pressure can take the form of deception, harassment, threats or isolation. Often the influencer separates the individual from loved ones in order to coerce him or her to take the actions the influencer desires.
When drawing up a will or estate plan, it is important to avoid even the appearance of undue influence. For example, if you are planning on leaving everything to a child who is also your primary caregiver, your other children may argue your child took advantage of her position to influence you. To avoid the appearance of undue influence, family members should not be present when you discuss the creation of your estate plan with your attorney or when you sign it. To confirm you are not subject to undue influence, it is best to obtain a formal assessment of your mental capabilities done by a medical professional before you draft estate planning documents. With the backup of a physician’s report of your mental status, your wishes for distribution of your estate can be honored and will diminish the chance of litigation at your death.
Ms. MacDonald’s practice is limited to Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Administration. Ms. MacDonald maintains her practice in the Santa Clarita Valley at 25115 Avenue Stanford, Suite A-209 in Valencia, California. She can be reached at 661-294-6464.
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