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Is undue influence a form of fraud?

On Behalf of | Dec 19, 2023 | Estate Administration

There are many types of fraud that can impact an estate plan. One of the most obvious is when someone replaces the official will with a fraudulent document. Perhaps a family member found out they were being disinherited, for example, so they substituted the document to take some of the inheritance from their siblings.

But these types of things are relatively uncommon, as most people would not take such drastic steps. There’s another type of fraud, known as undo influence, which may be used to accomplish a similar goal. But it works in a much different fashion.

Influencing someone else’s decisions

With undue influence, it’s usually a form of manipulation. The person who is using it is trying to influence the decisions that the other person makes as they draft their estate plan. Rather than creating a fraudulent will, they are just trying to manipulate the actual will so that it says what they want.

For example, the person who wants to change the estate plan could be a caregiver for the elderly parent who is writing it. But they could threaten to stop providing necessary care and assistance until the estate plan has been altered in their favor. They could also use other manipulative tactics, like lying about the other heirs and beneficiaries. They use their position of power, along with this manipulation or inaccurate information, to get the elderly person to file a new and altered will that is not really in line with what they wanted.

Undue influence and other types of fraud can be very complicated in an estate planning context. Those involved need to be well aware of their legal options.