Was Your Loved One Unduly Influenced To Change An Estate Plan?
Undue influence occurs when someone manipulates an elderly or vulnerable adult into changing their estate plan in a way that favors the influencer. To be considered undue influence, the behavior must result in a change to the victim’s finances or estate plan that the victim would not have made without the influence.
In many cases, the influencer only acts when they are alone with their target so families do not witness the manipulation taking place. Often, families only discover that their loved one has been manipulated after their loved one’s death, when they find out during the probate process that their loved one recently made changes to an estate plan.
When Is Someone Vulnerable To Undue Influence?
We all have some influence over our loved ones, but how can you tell when someone is vulnerable to undue influence?
- The elder lives alone and is fairly isolated from friends, family and outside activities. They may be recently widowed.
- The elder relies on help from others for errands, groceries, appointments or home maintenance.
- The elder has a physical disability or medical condition.
- The elder is experiencing memory loss or cognitive decline, or has a diagnosis of dementia.
- The elder has difficulty managing their finances.
- The elder does not drive.
Recognize The Signs Of Undue Influence
It can be difficult to identify undue influence while it is happening, but there are some factors that are commonly present in cases of undue influence. These signs may not be an indication that anything unethical is happening, but a combination of these factors could raise red flags:
- Isolation from the elder’s family and friends
- A new person in the elder’s life who takes up the majority of their time or attention
- The elder’s dependence upon the influencer, who may be a caretaker, new friend, romantic interest or family member who has recently moved in with the elder
- The influencer using the elder’s checkbook, credit cards, car or other assets
- The influencer attending banking appointments with the elder or on their behalf
- Any signs of physical or psychological abuse
- The influencer benefitting from recent changes to the elder’s estate plan
We’re Here To Help. Call For A No-Obligation Consultation.
If you have observed these signs in an elderly family member or have concerns that a loved one may have been unduly influenced by someone they trust, it is important to contact a knowledgeable probate and elder law attorney. At Gudeman & Associates, P.C., we have been protecting families and their assets for 50 years. We can help you explore options to protect your loved one, or to contest a will or trust. Please call 248-546-2800 or send us an email.