Probate law was established to administer assets after death. Lawyers help protect a person’s assets to help ensure they end up with the persons or organizations one desires. Litigation can occur when someone believes the decedent’s real wishes are not contained in the documents presented – like a new will. Or when ownership of the assets changed in the last few months or years of life, such as when bank accounts become joint accounts with one particular person to the exclusion of others, or a Power of Attorney is used to benefit someone or several people but no other family members. This can lead to litigation based on Undue Influence, Lack of Capacity, and Mistake among other causes of action.

Here is one simple tip that may help you as you look at these situations. If you want to help protect a loved one from being improperly influenced and assets ending up in the wrong hands, keep in close touch with your loved one. If your access is limited, keep a log of attempts to call or visit in person with as much information as possible on it, such as date, time, and reason given for no access. Quote the other person’s reasons stated for you not being able to see or even talk to your loved one. You may choose to keep a calendar of visits and attempts.

Be vigilant and supportive. And if you think your loved one has a reduced or diminished capacity, or is too weak to overcome the influence of a care giver or someone in charge of them or their affairs, see a lawyer about being appointed Guardian or Conservator. It’s better to take steps before the loss of your loved one than find yourself after the loss wishing you had done something earlier.

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