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san antonio estate planning lawyerAfter a person’s death, their family members or others who were close to them may struggle to deal with the loss of a loved one. While dealing with the legal and financial issues related to a person’s estate can be difficult enough, these matters can become even more complex when family members become involved in disputes about their loved one’s will. There are many reasons to contest a will, and many cases involve claims of “undue influence” in which someone convinced the person to create or change a will in a way that was contrary to their actual wishes. Those who are involved in these cases will need to understand the requirements that must be met to prove that undue influence occurred.

Proving Undue Influence

There are many reasons that family members may believe that someone improperly influenced their loved one. For example, a person may have had a close relationship with their grandchild, and they may have stated that they were going to leave certain assets to that grandchild in their will. However, after the person’s death, the grandchild may have found that they had been excluded from the person’s will, and the majority of the person’s assets were instead left to another family member who had helped manage the person’s finances. Because of this, the grandchild may believe that the family member who received the largest inheritance exerted undue influence and caused the person to change their will.

Not every example of influence by a beneficiary or another party is considered to be undue influence. Texas courts have stated that undue influence must involve a situation in which a party subverted or overpowered the mind of the person who made a will (the testator), and any changes to the testator’s will would not have been made if the party had not exerted influence. Simple requests to change a will may be valid forms of influence, but threats or coercion that overpowered the testator’s ability to make sound decisions may be considered undue influence.

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