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Do you know what undue influence is?

One issue that may arise while dividing up a person's estate is that of undue influence. In some cases, this can be used to contest a will.

Generally speaking, undue influence is when a person in a position of power, authority or trust uses that position to manipulate someone else. When used against an elderly person, this influence could cause that person to leave money or property to the other individual.

For instance, perhaps your father always talked about leaving equal amounts of his estate to you and your two brothers. You left Connecticut after college, but you still come home to visit on the holidays. One of your brothers still lives close to home.

When your father passes away, you find out that he amended his will shortly before he died. It now leaves just 10 percent of the assets to you and your other brother, but the brother who stayed closest to home gets 80 percent of the estate.

If your brother manipulated your father to change his will -- perhaps while he was suffering from a degenerative brain disease -- that could be a case of undue influence. The red flags are certainly there. This example is particularly problematic if the will, before it was altered, really did leave far more property to you, splitting things up evenly.

Cases like this can become quite difficult, especially when they involve multiple family members. They can also get complex as both sides seek to show what really happened. Make sure you know all of your legal options moving forward in estate litigation.

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