VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Is your loved one vulnerable to undue influence?

Watching our loved ones age can be difficult. They can gradually go from being completely independent and caring for others to needing support themselves. Once they do need assistance, it can be challenging to comprehend how much help they actually require.

Unfortunately, not everyone willing to help has the right motives. There may be someone in your loved one’s life who sees that vulnerability as an opportunity to manipulate their intentions for the future and even their existing estate planning.

Here’s what to look for if you think someone may be inappropriately influencing your loved one’s estate plan.

The clues may be subtle

Caregivers can be a tremendous asset. Caring for a loved one can be tiring and stressful when it is provided by just a few people. When there are more people to share the responsibility, it can relieve a lot of that stress.

People who are helping to care for your loved one, whether they are part of the family or not, can exert significant influence over your loved one including their important decisions about dividing their assets. When your loved one is vulnerable, there are many ways a caregiver can increase that vulnerability, including, but not limited to:

  • Altering medications or dosages
  • Inhibiting sleep
  • Restricting communication with family and others
  • Limiting access to important information

Even minor changes in your loved one’s routine can make them vulnerable to undue influence. Watch for signs that your loved one is making decisions inconsistent with previous estate planning.

Not all changes are bad

As our loved ones get older, they may truly want to make changes to their trusts and intended beneficiaries. Even though we may become more vulnerable as we age, it is still reasonable for wants, needs and relationships to change over time.

As much as possible, pay attention to the bigger picture and what you know about your loved one. Watch for acts or behaviors that are inconsistent with what you previously understood to be true.

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