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What if your parents disinherit you for a caregiver?

On Behalf of | May 10, 2022 | Estate Planning

Maybe your younger sibling moved back in with your mother after her cancer diagnosis and took care of her for the last years of her life. Perhaps it was a more distant relative, like a cousin, who stepped into that role. 

You are obviously grateful for the support they provided your parent and likely would not begrudge them some special inheritance because of the service they provided. However, at a reading of the will, you realize that your parents completely disinherited you in favor of their caregiver. 

Can you challenge that decision in probate court? 

Late-in-life changes that benefit caregivers are questionable

Some people will abuse the authority they have as a caregiver. They might manipulate an older adult by constantly lying to them or alienating them from family members. They could also demand a larger inheritance by threatening your loved one’s health. For example, they may withhold food or medicine. 

If you believe that undue influence by a caregiver contributed to your disinheritance, you could potentially bring the matter to the attention of the probate courts. You can challenge the will on the grounds that the caregiver influenced it inappropriately. 

If the judge who hears your case agrees with your perception of events, they could uphold an earlier version of the estate plan or treat the estate as though your parent died without documents in place, splitting the property as required by intestate succession laws among specific heirs. 

Recognizing when estate plan changes could be signs of undue influence can help you take action in the probate courts. If you intend to make a move, however, you need to act quickly before the chance is lost.