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When could a sibling unfairly affect a parent’s estate plan?

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2024 | Probate

As people age, their physical capabilities and health often change. Previously independent adults may become dependent on others for their basic daily needs. They may need support following medical instructions or maintaining their homes. In some cases, they require other people to cook and clean for them.

Most older adults do not want to move to a facility and into the care of strangers as they age. Family members often step up when older adults experience limits on their functional abilities triggered by age. People often feel relieved when their siblings volunteer to support an aging parent.

That relief may suddenly evaporate after a parent dies and their children review their estate plan. The caregiver now stands to inherit much more than everyone else, directly contradicting a lifetime of communication with the decedent. Could a sibling who served as a caregiver have unfairly influenced estate planning documents?

Caregivers can exert undue influence

Typically, the probate courts only hear will contests or challenges in certain specific situations. Allegations of undue influence could lead to a challenge against estate planning documents. For undue influence to occur, a testator must be vulnerable in some way. Another person must use the relationship that they have with the testator to inappropriately influence their estate plan for personal benefit.

A caregiver is in the ideal position to inappropriately influence someone else’s estate planning documents. They could bully a testator, possibly by withholding medication or serving their least favorite food for days on end. They could deny them outings and social interaction. They could also lie to someone and make them think that other family members have abandoned them.

Any of these actions might lead to an older adult updating their estate plan for the benefit of the caregiver and their own protection. Particularly in cases where a parent had always indicated they had specific plans for their estate and where there were prior versions of the estate plan that reflected those wishes, challenging the documents on record when someone dies due to undue influence could be an option.

Initiating probate litigation can be one of the best ways of upholding a loved one’s true intended legacy during estate administration when there are questions about their testamentary documents. Siblings who suspect misconduct on the part of a parent’s caregiver may need help if they want to take action in the Nevada probate courts.