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What is a last-minute change to a will, and when is it a bad sign?

On Behalf of | Jul 6, 2022 | Estate Planning & Probate

You probably know that if your loved one changed their will at the last minute, it could be a sign of undue influence or other issues.

At the same time, you have to question what “last minute” really means. What constitutes a change in a will that shouldn’t be legal or binding? When should you question your loved one’s intentions?

Take a look at the whole situation before sounding the alarm

There are a couple things you can do to assess if a last-minute change to a will was done legally or not.

The first step is to look at your specific situation. How long ago was the will changed? Was it changed the night before someone passed away? Was it a few weeks or months? The exact timeline does matter, because it is much more likely that your loved one made last-minute changes because of undue influences if the changes happened within hours or days of their death. It’s reasonable to question those changes, because they happened at a time when your loved one may have been feeling vulnerable.

Another thing to consider is how your loved one’s health was. If they were completely coherent and died unexpectedly, the last-minute change to the will could just be coincidental. It could also be a sign of foul play, so you might want to have it investigated or take time to question it in court.

What do you need to do if you think a last-minute change was caused by undue influence?

If you believe that the changes to the will came at the last minute because of undue influence or manipulation, you do need to make your concerns known. You may want to talk to your attorney about contesting the will or asking the court to go over it to be sure that your loved one had the mental capacity to change it.

In some cases, it’s true that a seemingly late change will be coincidental or an honest change made by your loved one after something altered how they felt about certain beneficiaries. In other cases, it’s possible that someone could have manipulated or pushed your loved one to change their documents, harming the beneficiaries who should have benefitted from the estate.