Call Us Today To Get Started On Your Case: 262-542-4278

Cramer, Multhauf & Hammes, LLP BBB Business Review

Undue influence and will creation

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2022 | Estate Planning |

When a loved one dies, their assets will be distributed in accordance with their wishes expressed in their will. And if they die without a will (intestate), the court will distribute their assets according to Wisconsin intestacy laws. But what happens if you believe your loved one signed their will under undue influence?

Under Wisconsin law, “undue influence” is one of the several reasons a will or any other estate planning document can be contested. Basically, undue influence comes up when someone close to the decedent (and who is interested in their estate) takes advantage of the relationship to coerce or manipulate them into modifying the will to their advantage.

So how does undue influence happen?

It is not uncommon for older folks to have diminished temperamental capacity to create a valid will. Without capacity, the testator can be particularly vulnerable to undue influence from malicious actors. Here are some of the warning signs of undue influence:

Isolation – When a naturally active person suddenly withdraws from family and friends, you should ask questions. This is especially true if the isolation is being perpetuated by a caregiver or a recently-met partner. Most often, the isolator will not allow unsupervised meetings between the victim and their family.

Unexplained inconsistencies – A will is a living document that is subject to revisions to reflect the testator’s current wishes. However, if the changes are vastly different from the most recent will, and there is no logical explanation for this, then chances are the testator was unduly influenced into revising their will.

Excessive involvement – Sometimes, the influencer can be actively involved in the drafting of the new will. Perhaps, they single-handedly picked who should witness the will. Or, they decide who gets what. All these could be clear signs of undue influence.

A will that is created under undue influence can be successfully invalidated. Find out how you can avoid this mishap while creating this important estate planning tool.