Things to know about undue influence in British Columbia

The presence of undue influence when someone is creating a will or other legal document is serious. British Columbia law defines undue influence as pressuring an individual to engage in a legal act (like making a will) that reflects the wishes of the person doing the influencing instead of the wishes of the person performing the act.

Many people believe that only a person with diminished mental capacity is vulnerable to undue influence, but that is not true. Think about it this way: A close family member such as a child could influence a will-maker to favor him or her in a will and not even realize what was happening. After all, parents inherently want to please their children and even subtle comments about the will may cause the parent to make changes he or she does not truly want.

Then there is obvious undue influence that occurs when the will-maker is subjected to force or even violence resulting in a will that may seem out-of-character to members of the family. The Law Society of British Columbia cites other examples of undue influence including forcible confinement, persistent verbal pressure and even indirect or subtle psychological pressures.

The main focus of this blog post is that cases involving undue influence are not typically black and white. As such, it can be challenging to prove such influence has occurred. However, those who think they, or a family member, have been the victim of improper influence do have legal recourse. Discussing the case with a lawyer who practices in British Columbia wills and estate law is an excellent first step.

There is still a lot to learn about undue influence in our province. Get started today by browsing our legal website.

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Lunny Atmore

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