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Is Ingratiating Oneself with an Elderly Person Undue Influence?

by Albert Gurevich on September 17, 2014

When is Friendliness with an Elderly Person Crossing the Line

One of the more common themes that people argue when they are contesting a will is that someone who has suddenly become a major beneficiary in the will somehow used undue influence to shut out those who were the beneficiaries in a prior will or who would normally have been considered the heirs. Many times the argument is that the person who ended up getting a large bequest, or even the entire estate, “tricked” the decedent into writing the will in their favor, to the detriment of those more deserving. However, the law is more complex than that and this isn’t an issue where there is a black and white answer, although there are some traits that do signal that a relationship is one of undue influence. In any case where you question whether someone’s behavior regarding an elderly may be undue influence, you should contact a Long Island estate attorney to discuss the matter.

It is not so uncommon for an elderly person to leave a gift in their will or will the entire estate to someone who had a profound impact on their life in their final days. This, in itself, is not illegal and is not always a sign of undue influence. It is quite possible that the person to whom the gift was made legitimately earned the affection of the decedent for a variety of different reasons including being a favorite child, putting an extraordinary amount of time and effort into the decedent’s care or even just being a companion or friend. Simply being friendly with an elderly person is not undue influence.

When friendly actions do become undue influence is when those actions serve to substitute the elderly person’s will for the person who benefits from the will. There are a variety of things that can clue someone in to this being the case. One is that an attorney connected to the person using undue influence is used to draft the will and that it was changed under the radar of the beneficiaries. Another clue would be if the influencer isolates the elderly person from friends or family, putting themselves in a position where they would be able to push their will on the decedent. The mental condition of the decedent is also something to be considered, for example, if someone who has Alzheimer’s all of a sudden signs a will leaving everything to an aid, they may have been more susceptible to changing their will since they may not have mentally understood what they were doing.

In general, undue influence can be a challenging accusation to substantiate when contesting a will because not everyone who influenced an elderly person to get them to change their will used particularly blatant tactics to do so. The bar is set pretty high when it comes to the level of misbehavior that has to be present for there to be undue influence, meaning that the result could be a long and bitter legal battle. If you are in any case where there is a dispute over a will with accusations of undue influence, a wise move would be to hire a Long Island estate attorney who has successfully handled such cases before, such as Albert Gurevich, Esq. We can be contacted at (516) 777-0647.

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Defending a Will Contest on Long Island

September 14, 2014

Strategies for the Executor When Someone Objects There are numerous reasons why a party may want to object to either part or all of a will in Long Island, New York. In some cases, a will objection may just be the result of family dynamics that lead to infighting when the testator dies. In other cases, […]

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How do I Bring Forgery Charges Against Somebody in Long Island?

September 2, 2014

How to Handle a Fake or Tampered Will While not common, wills do get tampered with, and even faked all together, from time to time. Will forgery is not only immoral and no only leads to disputes in Surrogate’s Court, but it is also illegal. In fact, will forgery is a Class D felony in […]

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How do I Fight Allegations of Mismanagement of a Long Island Estate?

August 19, 2014

Make Sure to Protect Yourself as Executor When the testator dies and you are appointed executor, you are facing a responsibility that is akin to having a job. From the date of the death, you have specific things that need to be done to ensure the proper administration of the will. However, there are some steps […]

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Persons Excluded from Serving as a Long Island Executor or Administrator

August 8, 2014

An executor or personal representative of a Long Island estate has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries and heirs to act in a responsible and legal manner. Under the New York Probate laws, specific persons are excluded from serving as executors or personal representatives of a Long Island estate including the following: Persons under the […]

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What are Normal Attorneys’ Fees on Long Island?

August 4, 2014

How to Avoid Paying too Much One of the first things that most people want to know when they are looking to litigate and estate or probate a will is how much the entire procedure will cost. In fact, when it comes to attorneys’ fees, there isn’t a sure answer since there are many factors […]

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Can an Attorney who Made a Decedent’s Will Represent the Executor in Court?

July 30, 2014

Determining the Effect of Ethical Concerns When Administering an Estate A family of someone who recently died may desire to have the same attorney who did the estate planning represent the executor. Attorneys, on the other hand, have to be concerned with their ethical responsibilities and making sure that there is no conflict of interest. […]

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Is Real Estate Included When Calculating Executor Commissions on Long Island?

July 23, 2014

Serving as executor is a huge responsibility. It is for that reason that it is written into the law in New York that when a person serves as executor, they are entitled to a commission that equals a percentage of the estate based on the total amount of that estate. Determining the amount of the […]

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Totten Trusts on Long Island

July 23, 2014

Totten trusts stem from a 1904 New York case where the Court of Appeals held that someone could open up a financial account, such as a bank account or securities account, and make someone the beneficiary of that account, giving the beneficiary access to it only after the owner died. Sometimes these are also referred […]

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How Do I Find Assets That are Hidden From an Estate?

June 10, 2014

When a Long Island decedent passes away, the executor or personal representative of the estate must located all of the decedent’s assets. This may entail finding hidden assets that the family may not have been aware of which the decedent may have held in the decedent’s sole name at the time of death. The personal […]

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