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How to defend against accusations of undue influence

As of 2016, it was found that a majority of Americans do not have a will, and that number seems to be on the decline, according to data from Gallup News. While 51 percent of Americans had a will in 2005, only 44 percent had a will at the time of the survey. 

Writing a will can be stressful, but things can become even more stressful after the person's death. Living relatives may fight over whether the will is legitimate, and this can produce accusations of undue influence. Anyone who finds her or himself on the wrong side of these accusations needs to fight them. 

Remain transparent every step of the way

Leading up to a loved one's death, everyone should remain transparent about every aspect of the process. If relatives feel as though they were left in the dark regarding important health decisions, then they may think preferential treatment in a will is a result of coercion. 

Have written agreements in place

As an example, say an adult daughter's mother wants to pay her for taking care of her every week. It may seem perfectly legitimate, but all relatives see in bank account statements is mother giving a lot of money to one person over everyone else. A written agreement may seem overly formal, but it helps in court by showing how the person was providing a valuable service. 

Document gifts

A mother may want to give her wedding ring to one daughter over another. It happens all the time, but it can still cause ill will for the daughter who received nothing. There may be a perfectly reasonable explanation for why this took place. To avoid costly lawsuits, it would be best for the daughter who received the present to have mom sign a document stating why this was appropriate. It is also good to mention gifts to any siblings before the parent passes away.

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