As someone with an elderly loved one, one of the most frustrating things to deal with is suspecting that someone is negatively influencing your loved one’s choices. Your family member may have created a will that fairly distributed their assets in the past, for example, but you may have just found out that there is a new will that gives everything to a single person.
Figuring out if that’s what your loved one actually wants – or if they’ve been unfairly influenced – is very important, because you and other heirs or beneficiaries may be able to help restore the previous version of the will. If other estate planning documents were affected, you may be able to have them amended or revoked to be sure that your loved one’s true wishes are still carried out.
When may you suspect undue influence?
There are some times when undue influence should be suspected. For example, if you know that your loved one is starting to deal with memory loss or is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, now is the time to keep a close eye on their estate planning documents and other accounts.
If you start to see unusual spending habits come up, or you notice that there is a new person that your loved one is around more than usual, you should look into those situations to make sure everything is happening with a good reason. For example, perhaps your mom or dad just really likes a new caregiver because they have a lot in common and now asks for them by name. Maybe that same care provider is spending a little more time than usual to set up the delivery of medical supplies or other needs to the home. It’s up to you to verify that every change has a purpose that makes sense.
If you see changes that you can’t explain, like missing money, unusual changes in your parent or loved one’s behavior, or extra appointments with attorneys when you normally would have been involved in scheduling them, it’s time to start asking questions. If you find out that your loved one has been influenced, then you should work to quickly correct that influence by looking into your legal options.