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

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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