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How Does Undue Influence Effect in Estate Administration in Ohio?

How Does Undue Influence Effect in Estate Administration in Ohio?
May 7, 2021 Shannon Dawes
Ohio Trusts Attorney

It is devastating to lose a loved one, and it’s especially devastating to discover that your loved one left their assets to an entity or an individual it was not related to them or only visited the loved one just prior to their death. In many cases such as these, family members are distraught when acquaintances or distant relatives suddenly appeared out of nowhere and made special requests to receive cash, assets, or property from a dying loved one. Unfortunately, it’s a common problem when strangers or distant relatives try to take advantage of elderly and vulnerable adults specifically to encourage the elderly person to modify their will in order to receive proceeds or assets from their estate.

What is undue influence and how to handle undue influence in an Ohio estate administration?

In the state of Ohio, the courts overseeing the probate proceeding will examine the decedent’s will and provisions to determine whether or not the testator’s decision was made knowingly and free of undue influence. Undue influence is defined in the state of Ohio as an individual manipulating a vulnerable person in such a way that overrides the person’s free will.

If a probate court discovers that a person’s will is the result of undue influence, The court could disregard certain parts of the wheel or the wheel in total. However, it might not be clear to the court whether or not the person’s best wishes were the results of an involuntary decision, or a bad decision, or their best wishes. One of the key aspects in terms of determining whether undue influence was exerted over the testator, is whether or not they were witnesses who observed the test door changing the wheel and signing the will. These witnesses are critical to determining whether or not there was any suspicious behavior at the time the wheel was signed by the testator.

The following are some of the signs that someone is trying to exert undue influence over a loved one:

  • Sudden changes to a will or a state plan.
  • Unexplained changes to a will or estate plan.
  • The testator Has been engaged in frequent and or prolonged communication with somebody that you have not been introduced to or do not know.
  • The testate door suddenly becomes depressed, withdrawn, or stops communicating with family or friends.
  • The testator becomes secretive or hides banking or financial documents. 

If you were suspicious that there has been unusual behavior or undue influence over your loved one, it is important to consider investigating the matter as quickly as possible. If you or a loved one are interested in creating an estate plan, call Dawes Legal LLC at 614-733-9999 to discuss your case with our experienced probate lawyer, Shannon Dawes.