Whether a will is being drafted for the first time or modified, it must accurately reflect the wishes of the testator. There may be several parties with an interest in the will, but they cannot modify its terms or coerce the testator into making changes.
Putting pressure on testators to make changes to a will is typically referred to as undue influence. Outlined below are some of the more common examples of this consequential reality.
Caregiver undue influence
Caregivers are placed in a position of trust. They tend to the daily needs of vulnerable individuals. While they may be entitled to fair wages for their role, they are not automatically entitled to receive benefits from the inheritance of those who they look after. The majority of caregivers understand this and act in a professional manner, but this isn’t always the case. Some caregivers abuse their position of power by coercing individuals to include them in their wills. This can be done via force or in more subtle ways, such as making the individual feel guilty. If a will is modified or drafted on an involuntary or coerced basis, such undue influence, which is unlawful.
Beneficiary undue influence
A testator is not obliged to divide their assets equally among beneficiaries. For instance, they may have a family member who is well off financially and has no need for a substantial inheritance. On the other hand, another family member may really be struggling with money, and the testator may wish to help with this challenge. With that said, money can bring out the worst in people sometimes, and if a beneficiary unduly influences a testator to give them a larger inheritance, this is unlawful.
Your will should reflect your true wishes and not the demands of anyone else. Seeking legal guidance before drafting a will or making adjustments to an existing estate planning document can help to ensure that your interests remain protected as time goes by.