Wyatt Hardy, PLC

Criminal, Family and Probate Law

Wyatt Hardy, PLC

Criminal, Family and Probate Law


Protecting Clients’ Rights. Working To Solve Problems.

How does undue influence impact estate planning documents?

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2022 | Probate

When planning your estate in Arkansas, you may have eager family members who want to help you. Particularly among those who may stand to benefit from your estate, you may observe an increased willingness to help and participate in planning.

Involving your family in the planning process can actually benefit everyone. However, if you begin to feel deceived, ignored or completely overtaken, you may need to reconsider everyone’s intentions.

Identifying undue influence

Given the complexity of planning your estate, having the assistance of your family may lighten your load. Allowing your beneficiaries to participate can also provide you a chance to express your intentions and expectations prior to your death. Positive and sincere interests in helping you plan can minimize conflict and help prevent estate disputes later on.

However, at times you may notice some people appear too eager to assist you. They may come on too strong and appear defensive when you suggest something different than what they want. Some warning signs of undue influence may include the following:

  • Convincing you to make changes that only stand to benefit them
  • Suggesting that you isolate your testator
  • Taking over communication with your attorney

Proving undue influence

Sometimes you cannot stop someone from taking over control of your estate or you may lack the support to intervene. Under these circumstances, your surviving family members may need to prove undue influence in probate court after your death. According to Cornell Law School, family members trying to prove undue influence will need to show that your weaknesses created a vulnerability that others took advantage of.

One thing you can do to assist your family is to write a note alleging that undue influence impacted your decisions. Give this note to them prior to your death. Your family can use this note as support and evidence to substantiate their claims.