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The Dark Side of Inheritance: Using Undue Influence to Change a Will

Older man signing business document. Example of undue influence to change a will.

Undue influence is a tactic used to manipulate someone into changing their will or estate plan. This can lead to inheritance disputes and legal battles among family members. Learn more about what constitutes undue influence and what steps you can take to protect your loved one’s wishes if someone used undue influence to change a will.

Understanding Undue Influence in Will Changes.

Undue influence occurs when someone uses their power or authority to manipulate another person into making changes to their will or estate plan. This can include tactics such as coercion, threats, or isolation. It is important to recognize the signs of undue influence and take action to protect your loved one’s wishes, such as seeking legal advice or involving a neutral third party in the decision-making process.

Signs that someone used undue influence to change a will.

There are several signs that may indicate undue influence in a will. These include sudden changes to the will that are not in line with the person’s previous wishes or values, the exclusion of close family members or friends without explanation, and the presence of a new beneficiary who has a close relationship with the person making the will. Other signs may include the person being isolated from their usual support system or being coerced or threatened into making changes to their will. If you suspect undue influence, it is important to seek legal advice and take steps to protect your loved one’s wishes.

The Arizona Supreme Court has listed the following eight non-exclusive factors to be considered when determining if there was undue influence to change a will:

  1. The alleged influencer has made fraudulent representations to the “testator” (the maker of the Will).
  2. The execution of the Will was the product of hasty action.
  3. The execution of the Will was concealed from others.
  4. The person benefited by the Will was active in securing its drafting and execution.
  5. The Will as drawn was consistent or inconsistent with prior declarations and plannings of the testator.
  6. The Will was reasonable rather than unnatural in view of the testator’s circumstances, attitudes, and family.
  7. The testator was a person susceptible to undue influence.
  8. The testator and the beneficiary had been in a confidential relationship.

In re Estate of McCauley, 101 Ariz. 8 (Ariz. 1966)

Legal options after someone uses undue influence to change a will.

If you suspect that a will has been changed due to undue influence, there are legal options available to challenge it. The first step is to gather evidence that supports your claim, such as witness statements or medical records. You may also want to consult with a lawyer who specializes in estate planning and inheritance disputes. They can help you understand your legal rights and options, and guide you through the process of challenging the will in court. Keep in mind that these cases can be complex and time-consuming, so it’s important to be prepared for a potentially lengthy legal battle.

Preventing undue influence to change a will.

Preventing undue influence is a crucial aspect of estate planning that can help ensure that your final wishes are respected and your loved ones are protected. One of the most effective ways to prevent undue influence is to create a strong and clear will (and trust) that clearly outlines your intentions. Choose a trusted executor who is willing and able to carry out your wishes as you intended. Discuss your estate plan with your family members to minimize the chances of disagreements or conflicts. This also makes it harder for someone to come along later and claim that you wanted something different. Finally, work with an experienced attorney who can help you create a comprehensive estate plan that takes into account your unique needs and goals. With these steps in place, you can rest assured that your final wishes will be honored and that your loved ones will be protected from undue influence.

Seeking professional legal advice for inheritance disputes.

If you suspect that has used undue influence to change a will of your loved one, it’s important to seek professional legal advice. A probate litigation attorney can help you understand your rights and options, and can guide you through the process of contesting a will. They can also help you gather evidence to support your case, such as medical records or witness statements. Inheritance disputes can be emotionally charged and complex, so having a knowledgeable and experienced legal professional on your side can make all the difference.

Has Someone Used Undue Influence To Change A Will? Call us today!

If you suspect that someone has used undue influence to change a will, it’s important to take action as soon as possible. Reach out to an experienced attorney who can guide you through the legal process and protect your interests. Don’t let your loved one’s wishes be ignored or overridden by those who seek to benefit unfairly. Contact us today at 602-443-4888 to schedule a consultation and start the process of challenging a will based on undue influence.


Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.