Undue Influence as a Family Affair

Bonnie Lashewicz, Norah Keating, Jack Phelan


Siblings sharing responsibility for parent care, and entitlement to parent assets, are sometimes dissatisfied with how their parents’ estates are distributed following a period of care to the parent. Such dissatisfaction can be advanced through legal claims by some siblings that other siblings, during the course of giving care, exerted undue influence over the parent to obtain their assets. The Canadian legal doctrine of undue influence directs attention to what transpired between two parties in the interest of protecting vulnerable people from having to honor arrangements to which they did not truly consent. In these cases, the focus is on the relationship between a sibling as an adult child, and the now deceased care recipient parent. At the same time, these cases reflect expectations and dynamics among siblings relative to each other. In this paper, a family, rather than dyadic, perspective is employed to illuminate elements of undue influence claims that are relevant to the sibling experience of giving care and sharing assets. We thus expand on understandings of dyadic issues addressed by the courts.

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Canadian Journal of Family and Youth / Le Journal Canadien de Famille et de la Jeunesse
2008-2014 | ISSN 1718-9748