The principle of undue influence can be of high importance when contesting wills and challenging estates. Here are some questions that can pinpoint the relevance of undue influence for those pursuing estate litigation in QLD.
Undue influence is where pressure or coercion has been placed on the will-maker, resulting in changes to their will and authorities, such as Power of Attorney. It is important to be aware of circumstances that result in undue influence to protect the wellbeing and interests of vulnerable people you care about.
What are the warning signs of undue influence?
There are some typical circumstances that may give cause for you to believe undue influence is being applied. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Has a loved one changed their will due to someone applying pressure?
- Can you see a person having a particularly strong influence over a loved one when it comes to their health or financial decisions?
- Has a loved one’s Power of Attorney or legal representation changed without any consultation with family or close friends?
How the Courts may perceive coercive behaviour
There are several factors that can be assessed in determining undue influence. The Courts may examine evidence of the following:
- That there is a sudden shift towards dependence on one person.
- The ‘influencer’ (person/s applying coercion) intervenes in personal relationships.
- The loved one is isolated from the rest of the family or friends.
- Changes to authority occur on bank accounts, Power of Attorney or legal representation.
- Meeting with financial planners or legal professionals happen without the inclusion of other members of the family or friends.
Coercion can happen in many different scenarios and can look slightly different depending on the individual circumstances. If coercion is established in a Court of Law, the Court can set aside the will and deem it invalid. Therefore, the rights of your loved one have the ability to be restored.
The relationship between Elder Abuse and undue influence
Unfortunately, undue influence is a very common occurrence in today’s society. This is due to our ageing population and, sadly, an increase in Elder Abuse. In fact, many instances of Undue Influence can also be considered Elder Abuse. You can find out more about Elder Law in this section.
Why you should pursue legal action today
It is normal to feel upset and even quite angry in situations where coercion is at play. In protecting those you care about, it is crucial to know that you can take legal action and be the catalyst for their empowerment.
That’s why you should notify a solicitor as soon as possible if you suspect foul play concerning Power of Attorney rights and responsibilities and conduct toward the will-maker. Our team can make prompt investigations and try and rectify the elderly or otherwise vulnerable person’s original intentions.
If you would like to talk through your concerns, our lawyers are available for a free 20 minute phone call.