No one ever wants to believe someone took advantage of or unduly influenced a loved one during their final days. Unfortunately, it happens more than you may think, and most families never know what happened until their relative dies.
Undue influence occurs when someone uses their power over another to pressure them into making decisions that compromise their best interests. For example, they may persuade a vulnerable adult to change their will, perhaps making the influencer the primary beneficiary.
Should you challenge the will?
Families that suspect an elderly relative suffered from undue influence have a right to contest the will in probate court. While it can be difficult to prove undue influence, it is possible if you can back up your claim with evidence.
Unfortunately, direct evidence is often hard to come by, especially if your loved one has already passed and cannot speak about what happened. However, you do not necessarily need direct evidence to convince a judge that undue influence occurred.
Can you build a case without direct evidence?
If you can gather enough circumstantial evidence of undue influence, you may still challenge your family member’s will successfully. For example, statements from those who witnessed or knew about the coercion can lay the groundwork for a case.
Your relative’s estate planning history may also help you show that their final will is extremely inconsistent with their previous decisions. When judges see dramatic changes in documents like wills and trusts, they may feel a will contest is warranted.
Legal guidance from someone who understands Washington probate and wills laws can play a crucial role in helping you ensure your loved one’s true final wishes come true.