What is considered in challenging a will? We look at the principle of Undue Influence. Here are some questions that can pinpoint the relevance of Undue Influence in challenging a will in QLD:
- 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?
These are all warning signs of Undue Influence, which is an important component in challenging a will.
What is the definition of Undue Influence?
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.
The relationship between Elder Abuse and Undue Influence
Undue Influence is a very common occurrence in today’s society. This is due to our ageing population and, unfortunately, an increase in Elder Abuse. In fact, many instances of Undue Influence can also be considered Elder Abuse – which we discuss in this section.
How to identify Undue Influence
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. Here are some key indicators:
- A sudden shift towards dependence on one person.
- Influencer begins to intervene in personal relationships.
- Has the influencer isolated your loved one isolated from the rest of the family or friends?
- Changes to authority on bank accounts, Power of Attorney or legal representation.
- Meeting with financial planners or legal professionals without including other members of the family or friends. They may or may not have been previously notified and involved in these meetings.
Coercive behaviour can happen in many different scenarios and can look slightly different depending on the individual circumstances. However, you need not sit back and let it happen, and you can be the catalyst for empowerment.
This is because if coercion is established in a court of law, the court can set aside the will and deem it invalid. What happens here is the decision that the will is no longer made of a person’s own free will. Therefore, the rights of your loved one have the ability to be restored. This is via the process of contesting a will.
Your best course-of-action
That’s why it’s critical to notify a solicitor as soon as possible if you feel like Undue Influence is or has occurred. Our team can make prompt investigations and try and rectify the elderly person’s original intentions.
If you would like to talk through your concerns, our lawyers are available for a free 20 minute phone call.