Do you suspect undue influence in your parent’s estate plan?

Do you suspect undue influence in your parent’s estate plan?

| Jul 9, 2020 | Estate planning |

Your parent is elderly, and they have created an estate plan to pass on their assets and property to the next generation. However, you have a bad feeling about the situation that you cannot quite put your finger on. You worry that someone has manipulated your parents into creating provisions that they would not have added on their own.

When a bad actor deprives an elderly person of their rights and substitutes their own, this is called undue influence. If you suspect the presence of undue influence in your parent’s life, this post will go over some important details you should know.

Undue influence: How do I recognize it?

Undue influence is a form of elder abuse that is all too common. Although it is not a form of physical abuse, it is still incredibly dangerous. It occurs when someone in a position of trust or authority in an elderly person’s life coerces them for personal gain.

People who exert undue influence may include:

  • Medical professionals
  • Caregivers
  • Counselors
  • Attorneys
  • Financial advisors
  • Adult children
  • Spouses or ex-spouses
  • Neighbors

Some common examples of undue influence include:

  • Transferring assets to the advisor
  • Investing assets in the advisor’s company or other endeavors
  • Passing over a natural beneficiary in lieu of the advisor
  • Leaving the majority of the estate to the advisor and small sums to relatives

In some unfortunate cases, a bad actor exerts undue influence over a senior citizen, inheriting significant assets, and the surviving family members receive nothing.

What you can do about it

If you suspect that someone is influencing your elderly parent for their own gain, you must act swiftly to gather evidence and stop the abuse. Sadly, it is very difficult to prove undue influence. After all, adults have the right to leave their estate to whomever they wish. To prove undue influence and successfully challenge an estate plan, you may need to consult an estate planning attorney who has handled elder abuse cases.