Is this a sign of undue influence?

On Behalf of | Mar 23, 2022 | Estate planning

Dealing with an elderly parent who has a memory or mental degradation is not only mentally and emotionally taxing. It is also a potential issue because they are such a vulnerable party.

In these situations, it is possible that someone may try to take advantage of this vulnerability in order to exercise control. This issue – undue influence – is something you should keep an eye out for.

Why does undue influence happen?

Cornell Law School discusses signs of undue influence. Undue influence refers to a situation in which one individual – a manipulator – attempts to exert their control over another, the victim.

In most cases, the victim is an elderly relative with an estate plan that the manipulator hopes to gain something from. They either want more power within the estate itself, or they want to gain more from the will.

Red flags to watch for

Manipulators will use any tool in their arsenal to isolate the victim, allowing them to exert their control without any outside influence. This is often the first sign to the loved one’s families that something is amiss, as suddenly they cannot seem to get in touch with the victim.

Another red flag is if you notice the manipulator gaining more and more favor in the victim’s will or estate. Have they suddenly gained a huge portion of assets? Were they added to a trust they were not part of before? Did the victim suddenly appoint them estate executor?

Sometimes, these changes are harmless and have no deeper meaning. Other times, they point at the possibility of manipulation and warrant further investigation.