I lived in Seattle before moving to Tennessee about three years ago. Recently, a case went all the way up to the Washington Supreme Court that involved a ninety-five year old woman named Eva who changed her will shortly before her death and left her entire estate (including 50 acres of very valuable real estate located on the Puget Sound) to a postal worker friend who had become Eva’s caregiver in recent years. Eva’s family contested the new will and won the case because the court held that the caregiver had exerted undue influence over Eva.
Unfortunately, it is common to hear of caregivers, family members or friends using undue influence or fraud to compel an elderly person to change a will. In Tennessee, a will can be challenged on the basis of undue influence if it is shown that a “confidential relationship” existed between the deceased and the person who allegedly used undue influence to get the deceased to change his or her will. We routinely work with families whose children are involved in the estate planning process and are always careful to make sure that no one is being influenced to do something that is not of his or her own volition. If you have any questions about undue influence, please reach out to us.