What are signs of undue influence?

by | Aug 17, 2022 | Estate Planning

As a person ages, it may in some cases become easier for ill-meaning family members to take advantage of their weakened mental or physical state.

Some may attempt to exert manipulative influence or control over them, creating undue influence. But what exactly is this? What are potential signs that might indicate it is happening?

What are the motivating factors?

The American Bar Association takes a look at undue influence. This happens when someone exerts manipulative control or takes other underhanded or coercive steps in order to get someone to bend to their will, especially in terms of estate planning.

For example, say one child feels slighted and like they did not get a fair share of the estate. They could manipulate and control their parent as a way to eventually get them to give a larger share of the estate.

Sometimes, they want power rather than assets. They may want the victim to name them the executor of the estate, giving them the power to carry out many things on their behalf. Or, they might want to become power of attorney or medical power of attorney, meaning they can make legal and medical decisions on the victim’s behalf.

The vulnerability of victims

Of course, the decisions they make rarely if ever align with the true best interests of the victim, as they are just a means to achieving whatever result they are after.

Victims of undue influence often have no way of telling they are victims, especially due to the strict control of information that many manipulators exert. Thus, it is up to other loved ones or family members to recognize the signs, which often start with isolation or information control from one individual and spiral from there.