Your parents have probably had an uncomfortable conversation or two with you about their estate planning wishes. They may have explained to you how they intended to divide their property or even told you about assets that they previously had not revealed to you.
While you have known for years what your parents wanted to leave behind as a legacy, the estate planning documents produced after their deaths may not uphold those previously stated wishes. When the sole beneficiary of the unexpected changes is your sibling, you may believe that they influenced your parents’ documents.
Can you take action to protect your inheritance from this kind of unfair influence?
You can contest the will based on undue influence
Typically, older adults creating estate plans in Oregon know that they can depend on the courts to uphold their final wishes. However, there are circumstances in which families may need to challenge estate plans in probate court to protect someone’s true legacy wishes.
Undue influence by a family member or caregiver is one of the most common reasons for families to initiate probate litigation. When a caregiver manipulates someone’s relationships, threatens them by withholding care or uses their caregiving role to coerce or trick someone, their influence on the estate plan may affect its validity in the eyes of the courts.
If family members can show that there was intentional interference in the testator’s other relationships by the new primary beneficiary of their estate or that they made changes that seem questionable while in the direct care of that individual, the state may agree with the claim that undue influence unfairly altered the terms of your loved one’s estate plan.
If the courts affirm your claims of undue influence, they may revert to older estate planning documents or handle the estate as though your loved one died without testamentary documents in place.
Probate litigation is nothing to fear
Some people worry that they will seem greedy or unnecessarily litigious if they initiate probate litigation over a loved one’s estate plan. However, their decision to take action may ultimately protect their loved one’s last wishes.
Rather than shying away from taking action, you might want to use your frustration as the motivation you need to challenge questionable documents in probate court. Knowing when you have a valid reason to initiate probate litigation can help you protect your inheritance and the legacy your loved one hoped to leave for you.