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What is undue influence and how does it affect estate planning

On Behalf of | Aug 1, 2023 | Estate Planning

Elder neglect and exploitation are sinister forms of abuse that can take many forms. Sadly, conning or outright forcing an elderly loved one to alter their estate plan to benefit them financially occurs far too often.

No one wants to consider a time when they are no longer around. However, elderly loved ones must rely on caregivers for enforceable estate plans that reflect their preferences, not another loved one seeking financial benefits. Financial abuse can become problematic if the trusted family member provides ongoing support and becomes a future beneficiary.

When suspicions arise

Certain family members may be suspicious of the caregiver’s intentions. However, avoiding the appearance of influence over decisions is of paramount importance. Protecting elderly parents come first. Prioritizing that can minimize the potential of interfering with a loved one’s choices.

Parents preparing their estate plan should engage in one-on-one communications with an attorney without beneficiaries with them. That provides both sides with open lines of communication where they can speak freely. Even more important, the legal representative has a chance to ensure that elderly moms and dads are aware of the meeting and are not forced to attend.

Future gatherings may involve other family members only after clarifying the parents’ wishes.

Lawyers should also be aware of older and more vulnerable parents, including those suffering from disability or dementia that may impair decision-making. That level of full disclosure can avoid future problems of a relative claiming incompetency in drafting a will.

Family members should rally around an elderly loved one during their final years, especially the caregiver. The sole focus should be on them as they live out their remaining years.