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Californian residents who are dealing with matters of the estate should know that determining whether or not a will is valid isn’t always a straightforward task. We at Pedder, Hesseltine, Walker & Toth, LLP, will discuss undue influence and its potential role in issues with the estate.

The definition of undue influence is a situation in which someone has been tricked or otherwise induced to act in a way that would differ from how they normally act. This differs from being threatened because coercion is being used rather than brute force. Undue influence usually involves an individual taking advantage of someone’s mental state to make suggestions or pull strings in a way that guides the victim toward making decisions that benefit the manipulator, even if they go against the victim’s original wishes.

In terms of dealing with estate matters, undue influence happens when someone uses their sway or power to convince the testator to include things into the will (or change pre-existing things) in a way that favors them. An example may be an estranged relative that the testator wanted removed from the will getting themselves written back into it because they had a conversation with the testator while the testator was suffering from a lapse in memory.

If you believe that someone has unlawfully meddled in the estate affairs of a loved one, consider taking a look at our web page on handling and planning estates. It is important that your loved one have their true wishes abided by.