Most Americans are free to prepare comprehensive estate plans that address a variety of end-of-life matters. Interestingly, though, according to Gallup, only about 46% of Americans currently have written a will. This number is down from 51% about 15 years ago.
For many reasons, it is important to encourage your elderly relatives to write wills. If they do so, you can probably depend on their wills to reflect their genuine intentions. If someone you love is feeling lonely, though, that simply may not be the case.
Undue influence occurs when someone supplants his or her interests over those of the will’s author. Often, this means the will’s drafter’s traditional heirs do not receive their fair share. An undue influencer also may keep your loved one from making charitable gifts.
Older Americans are increasingly struggling with social isolation. Lonely individuals are vulnerable to undue influence for a few different reasons. Most significantly, isolation may cause a person to allow an undue influencer to get too close.
If your loved one is still alive, you may be able to insulate him or her by increasing contact. That is, you may reduce the risk of undue influence simply by making more visits and having more phone calls. After your loved one dies, though, you may have little choice but to object to the validity of the will.
While contesting a will can be a long and awkward process, you do not want to let an undue influencer get away with taking advantage of your lonely relative. Ultimately, contesting the document can be the most effective way to protect your loved one’s legacy.