As your parents age, members of your family, friends, and caretakers may take more of a prominent role in their lives. They may begin to have more influence on your parent’s life, but when does that influence transition to something more sinister? Sometimes, a person will enter an elderly person’s life in order to unduly influence their life and the disposition of their estate, but do you know the warning signs to protect your parent from an undue influencer? If you suspect that someone is attempting to unduly influence your parent, call or contact The Inheritance Recovery Attorneys today to learn more about your legal options.
Signs of Undue Influence
It is important to remember that there is a difference between normal influence in a parent’s life and undue influence. In order to rise to the level of undue influence, the power over your parent must be such that it destroys the free will and agency of your loved one. Some of the most common signs of undue influence on your parent include the following:
- Your parent stops making phone calls to family members or makes significantly fewer than before
- Your parent stops visiting friends, family members, and other loved ones
- Your parent has mood swings
- Your parent increasingly says that “the influencer can do that for me” when your parent was normally independent
- The influencer prohibits visits with excuses that your parent “needs rest,” “cannot be disturbed,” “needs peace and quiet,” or “does not wish to be bothered”
- The influencer takes extra steps to prohibit contact by those who could help your parent break free from the undue influence, such as clergy, social workers, family members, etc.
- The influencer monitors visits by insisting on being present, filming, or audio recording visits
- The influencer bans phone calls
- The influencer monitors telephone calls by being on the line, recording calls, etc.
- The influencer frequently moves the person around to different living environments, sometimes even to different cities or states in order to prevent contact and visits
- Your parent stops communicating over email, Skype, videoconferencing, or social media
- Your parent is unaware where the checkbook or financial statements are located
- Your parent is unaware where the original will and estate planning documents are located
- The influencer begins to sign checks for your parent or make financial transactions
- The influencer is added to your parent’s bank accounts, often under the guise of being able to help with bank transactions
- Your parent begins exaggerating medical ailments
- Your parent faces excessive criticism by the influencer or is told they lack the ability to handle their own affairs
- Your parent makes statements to the effect of “the influencer wants me to do X, and if I do not he/she will be mad” or “the influencer wants me to do X, and I have to comply”
- Your parent visits an estate planning attorney and financial advisor recommended by the influencer
- Your parent makes changes to long-standing customs and/or habits
- Your parent turns over the planning of daily life activities to the influencer
- The influencer spends excessive amounts of time around your parent, much of which is unsupervised
- The influencer speaks poorly about your parent’s family and friends, generally starting small but increasing criticism over time
- Your parent begins to make small gifts to the influencer, or gives other financial benefits like co-signing a loan, allowing the use of homes and cars, giving cash gifts, etc.
If your parent is displaying many of these signs it is time that you speak with an attorney experienced in matters of undue influence right away.
Why Intervention is Important
Undue influence is more than simply gaining the trust of your parent. It is a form of elder abuse and this person could be doing more than taking advantage of your parent to improve his or her own financial standing. This type of coercion can also happen in tandem with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of a elderly person, which is why intervention is so important if you suspect that a person is exerting undue influence over your parent. In addition, undue influence is often targeted at taking money from your parent, so your inheritance and your parent’s financial stability could be threatened if the person exerting undue influence is not handled immediately.
Call or Contact Our Office Today
If you suspect that a person is exerting undue influence over your parent, it is critical that you speak with a knowledgeable attorney about the issue right away. Call the office or contact us today at The Inheritance Recovery Attorneys to schedule a consultation of your case.