Elderly people, with their accumulated assets, are often vulnerable to undue influence. This manipulation, if unchecked, can wreak havoc on an older adult’s estate, jeopardizing their financial security and legacy.
There are many ways in which undue influence can harm an older adult’s estate, so vigilance is important in protecting their assets.
Understanding undue influence
Undue influence occurs when someone uses coercion, manipulation or pressure to exert control over an elderly individual’s decisions, particularly regarding estate planning and financial matters. This influence may come from family members, caregivers or even close friends who exploit the vulnerability that often accompanies aging.
Undermining testamentary capacity
One of the primary ways undue influence harms an older adult’s estate is by undermining their testamentary capacity. This means that the elderly individual may get coerced into altering their will or other legal documents in favor of the influencer. These changes can result in beneficiaries who were never intended to receive such assets, causing confusion and disputes after the individual’s passing.
Another consequence of undue influence is the draining of an older adult’s assets. The influencer may convince the elderly person to make large financial gifts, transfer property titles or change beneficiaries on insurance policies and financial accounts. These actions can deplete the estate’s value, leaving the older adult financially vulnerable in their later years.
Isolating the elderly individual
Undue influence often involves isolating the elderly individual from their support network. 1 out of 4 American seniors age 65 or older already face social isolation.
The influencer may manipulate the victim into severing ties with friends and family, creating an environment where they have no one to turn to for advice. This isolation amplifies the influencer’s control and further endangers the elder’s estate.
Diminishing quality of life
Beyond financial harm, undue influence can also lead to a diminished quality of life for the elderly individual. Others may pressure them into making decisions that go against their best interests, such as selling their home or liquidating investments prematurely. This can result in a reduced standard of living and increased stress during their later years.
Discussing this topic with someone potentially under the threat of undue influence is one step to take. Help elderly individuals enjoy their later years with financial security and peace of mind.