Your parents worked hard for the wealth they accumulated during their lives. Basic fairness dictates they should have some control over what happens to their assets after their death. Writing a comprehensive will, of course, removes much of the doubt about your parents’ intentions.
While you can typically rely on the language inside your parent’s will, you may find that it makes little or no sense to you. If your parents’ estate plan leaves you with less than you expected or gives you nothing at all, you may want to contest the will. This is especially true if you suspect undue influence.
What is undue influence?
In the estate planning context, undue influence happens when someone supplants his or her wishes over those of the estate planner. Sadly, this type of behavior is often a form of elder abuse.
Your parents may be increasingly vulnerable to undue influence if any of the following are true:
- Your parents live in a nursing home
- Your parents have an in-home caregiver
- Your parents have serious injuries or illnesses
- Your parents have lost touch with friends, family members and other loved ones
How do you spot undue influence?
Because of the deference the law often gives to properly drafted wills, it can be challenging to prove undue influence. Still, you may have evidence of undue influence if your parents changed their will shortly before their deaths. Likewise, if the will primarily benefit a new caregiver, friend or romantic partner, undue influence may be to blame.
Undue influence gives you legal grounds to contest a will in Texas. Ultimately, to protect both your parents’ legacy and your financial future, you may need to ask a judge to weigh in on the validity of their will.