What can be done if my elderly parents are making changes in their Wills under the influence of my brother?

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What can be done if my elderly parents are making changes in their Wills under the influence of my brother?

He lives close by to them; I live 150 miles away. I am the named executor (they did not change that) but can my parents make monetary changes without me being involved? This was done in their attorney’s office,in the presence of my brother. I was not present. And received no notice or updated copy of the Will. Is this proper legal practice?

Asked on December 7, 2015 under Estate Planning, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is legal so long as your parents are mentally competent (since only mentally competent people can make or change wills) and your brother is not wielding "undue influence" over them. Simply living closer and/or seeing them more often does not by itself show undue influence--and to the contrary, it would tend to explain or justify changes to leave more to him, if they see him more often. Undue influence would be found if they were dependent on him in some signficant way--for example, they can't drive and live where there is little or no mass transit and nothing readily walkable, so they depend on him for shopping and access to the world; or they have medical conditions and he helps take care of them (basically, he is their caregiver). If there is undue influence, you *may* be able have the amended or revised will set aside, if you challenge it; but without undue influence (or out-and-out coercion; e.g. if he threatened them to get them to make changes) and if they are mentally competent, it is *very* likely the changes will stand. There is no legal requirement that the executor, a child, a beneficiary, etc. be involved in changes to a will--your parents may change it without your involvement.


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