If you have an elderly relative, you may want to inquire whether he or she has a will. After all, an alarming number of Americans have neglected even simple estate planning. If your loved one has already drafted a will, you should also be certain the document reflects his or her true wishes.
Undue influence occurs when someone puts pressure on a person who is preparing or updating a will. A successful undue influencer supplants his or her wishes over the estate planner’s. While there are many potential signs of undue influence, isolation is a common one.
Isolation may remove guidance
Many older Americans have friends, family members, spiritual advisors and others who help them with large and small tasks. Before making legal or financial decisions, an individual can tap into this network for guidance.
If an unscrupulous person isolates your loved one, though, your relative may have little choice but to listen to the instructions of the undue influencer.
Isolation may foster control
With fewer individuals to offer support, an elderly person may surrender some control over his or her estate plan to an undue influencer. Even if your loved one recognizes a loss of control, he or she may have a hard time regaining power.
Isolation may encourage affection
Often, individuals recognize they are under undue influence. Sometimes, though, they simply do not care. If your loved one has little contact with anyone other than the influencer, he or she may develop affection for the person.
Regrettably, when your isolated relative is feeling affectionate, he or she may decide to leave all or much of the estate to the undue influencer instead of you or other heirs.