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What constitutes undue influence on a Colorado will?

On Behalf of | May 15, 2024 | Estate & Trust Litigation |

A Colorado will is a document that outlines what should happen to someone’s property after they die. Wills can include provisions for memorial services or the care of dependent family members. For many testators in Colorado, a will might be the only document they have in place to guide their loved ones after they die.

Given that wills have so much potential legal authority, there’s always a risk of outside parties attempting to manipulate or change the terms someone includes in a will. The beneficiaries or close family members of someone who recently died may have questions about the terms included in their will. They may reach the conclusion that an outside party exerted undue influence on the testator.

When can people contest a will in Colorado based on their concerns of undue influence?

Undue influence cases must meet certain standards

There are three basic requirements for cases where people challenge wills based on claims of undue influence. The first is that the testator must have been vulnerable at the time that they drafted or updated their documents. Becoming physically dependent on someone else due to health challenges makes someone relatively vulnerable. Advanced age and medical conditions can potentially leave people highly dependent on family members and caregivers.

The second requirement for an undue influence case is an individual in a position to use their relationship with the testator for personal gain. Typically, spouses, children or those serving as caregivers could theoretically exert undue influence on a testator. Anyone with control over someone’s daily life, finances or medical care could unfairly influence their estate plan.

Finally, there needs to be an indication that the party in a position to exert undue influence benefited financially from changes to someone’s estate plan. Provided that someone in a position of authority may have abused their relationship with the testator for personal gain, the Colorado probate courts may agree to set aside a will or uphold an earlier version of the document.

Recognizing when probate litigation may be necessary to uphold someone’s legacy can help people protect the true wishes of someone they love who has recently died. Those who take action concerning undue influence altering an estate plan can protect their interest in the estate while advocating for the true wishes of their loved one.