Undue influence: A question of power dynamics

Lynard C. Hinojosa

One common reason for estate disputes is the allegation from one heir or beneficiary that someone else used undue influence on the testator and therefore convinced that person to write their will in a way that benefited someone unfairly or against the testator’s real wishes.

This is often a financial issue. If the elderly person amends the will to take money from their family and give it to a caregiver, for instance, the family might contend that the caregiver manipulated them into doing it. The family members essentially consider this theft, and it is similar, but the manipulation means that the will looks official. The elderly person really did alter the will and sign it, but they did so only because of that outside influence and manipulation (or coercion).

Often, undue influence is set up by power dynamics. The elderly person is vulnerable and at the mercy of the caregiver. The caregiver, meanwhile, is in a position of power and has access to the elderly person. They use that power to their advantage.

Another issue that may play into it is the elderly person’s mental abilities at the time the will was made. Many degenerative brain diseases and similar issues make it harder for them to understand or remember what is happening. This makes them especially vulnerable because they may not see the red flags or they may not understand that someone is taking advantage of them. Those in power look for these opportunities to benefit themselves.

Do you think that this happened to your loved one and negatively impacted you and your family? In these complicated, emotional cases, you need to know exactly what steps to take.




“*” indicates required fields

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Call 310-473-7000 or contact us online.

© Copyright 2024 Hinojosa & Forer LLP. All rights reserved.

Digital Marketing By rize-logo