At the Law Office of Hale Ball, we always recommend that our clients begin planning their estates as early in life as possible. However, we also recognize that a number of Virginians wait until they’ve reached their senior years or until a health crisis has occurred. When people delay their estate planning until they are elderly or in distress they are often susceptible to receiving bad advice from trusted parties or family members. In the estate planning field, this is often referred to as exerting “undue influence.
Signs of Undue Influence
Undue influence often occurs when a person of advanced years or in a vulnerable physical or mental state is encouraged by an interested party to form or alter his or her will. As a consequence, future heirs may suddenly find that their share of the estate has been inexplicably decreased, or that they’ve been cut out of the will altogether. Furthermore, they may only learn of this after the testator is deceased. When this is the conscious, well-reasoned decision of the testator, there is little that can be done about it. However, when it appears that the testator has been manipulated, the will may be contested on the grounds of undue influence. A typical example of this would be a new spouse who encourages a mentally unstable testator to change his or her will to exclude children from an inheritance so that he or she would gain a larger share.
Our Role In Preventing Claims of Undue Influence
The lawyers of the northern Virginia firm of Hale Ball recognize that the best way to prevent claims of Undue Influence—or any other contestation of a will—is to make sure that it is prepared properly in the first place.
At Hale Ball, our attorneys prevent claims of undue influence by establishing a close relationship with our clients and diligently maintaining our files. If one of our client’s wills is ever contested on the grounds of undue influence, our lawyers are capable of demonstrating our client’s intention at the time of the formation or most recent alteration of the will. Conversely, when there appears to be no conflict (the will was prepared by another lawyer), we can represent clients who feel that a deceased or mentally lapsed loved one may have been unduly influenced by another.
To enjoy the peace of mind in knowing that your will and trusts are impervious to allegations of undue influence, contact an experienced Virginia estate planning attorney at the northern Virginia Law Offices of Hale Ball. Call us at 1-703-591-4900.
Litigating undue Influence Charges
If you believe a Will or Trust or other life care or estate planning document is the result of undue influence, and our firm did not prepare the document, we can assist you in challenging the document which is challenged on grounds of undue influence. Our partner Jean Galloway Ball successfully litigated one of the definitive cases in Virginia on confidential relationships and undue influence, Estate of Parfitt v. Parfitt, 277 Va. 333 (2009).
Since 1980 the AV-rated law firm of Hale Ball has served the legal needs of individuals and businesses. Our team of attorneys include lawyers named to Super Lawyer and Rising Star lists, as well as attorneys with advanced legal degrees, specialty certifications and lawyers who teach their areas of practice to other lawyers.
Use the contact form on this page to schedule a consultation, or call 703-591-4900.
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10511 Judicial Dr
Fairfax, VA 22030