Undue Influence by Family Members: What to Look Out For

When it comes to families, everyone has their own issues. But when you throw finances and planning for the future into it, things can go from somewhat dysfunctional to outright chaos. Though we never want to believe it, you may experience undue influence by family members who do not have your parents or your best interests in mind. But how do you know what to look for? Take note of the warning signs of undue influence by family members.

When you suspect siblings of undue influence.

In some families, siblings may be estranged from one another or one or both parents. This can be especially difficult for the family when it comes to estate planning. Parents may feel compelled to keep their wills evenly distributed to the siblings. That’s when undue influence may come into play when one sibling thinks the division of assets is unfair.

If you believe a sibling is committing undue influence, look out for:

  • The lawyer who has drawn up the will. If the lawyer happens to be someone your sibling is close to, whom in the past your parents have not worked with, there may be undue influence occurring by your sibling.
  • An absentee sibling suddenly showing up. If your sibling has typically stayed away from family matters but now suddenly is interested in the health of your parent or parents, be mindful of their behaviors and actions–especially if they are trying to be a caregiver to the parent.
  • Any changes in assets. If you have been the one in charge of your parent’s assets and there has suddenly been a change, be cautious and find out where those assets are going or how they are being used.
  • Elderly abuse or threat of entering a nursing home. You know your parent’s wishes. If suddenly there is evidence of elder abuse, threats, or the fear of entering a nursing home against their will, a sibling or other family member may be taking dramatic actions against them or, is using fear to manipulate. 

When you suspect a caregiver of undue influence.

If a family member serves as a caregiver or has provided a caregiver to a parent or older relative, you would hope it is with good intentions. But sometimes, those we trust most with a loved one can let us down in the most harmful ways. If you suspect a caregiver of undue influence, be mindful of:

  • The caregiver speaking for the person. Getting health updates from a caregiver is one thing. But when they suddenly are speaking on behalf of your parent, you may feel suspicious and concerned, especially if your parent or parents seem uneasy or withdrawn.
  • Drastic changes to the will, or secrecy about it. We’ve heard the horror stories of children being written out of their parent’s wills only to find a caregiver has been named the beneficiary of the estate. If you suspect wrongdoing, request a meeting with the lawyer and your parents if possible.  

If you suspect undue influence and are concerned about your parents and older relatives, trust your instincts. Alert nursing home staff if you are concerned about family members manipulating your parents and contact an attorney if you feel you need legal representation.

Your family is your priority. Your parents have raised you and provided for you. Now it’s time you protect them. 

How Our Nashville Probate Litigation Attorneys Can Help

At MHPS, our Middle Tennessee estate lawyers have helped hundreds of clients contest wills in probate court. We understand what you will need for a successful claim and will work hard to make sure the person’s wishes are respected and followed.

If you believe that your loved one may have been a victim of undue influence during the planning of his/her estate, now is the time to act. Contact MHPS today to schedule a consultation.

Categories: Estate Litigation
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