You’d like to assume that the person who cared for your loved one in their old age or throughout an illness does so out of love and compassion — not greed. Unfortunately, some people will use their position as caregiver as a means to manipulate someone’s estate plan for their benefit.
Let’s look at some common signs that undue influence may have impacted an estate plan.
You weren’t allowed to see or call your loved one
One of the common tactics used by those trying to alter an estate plan for their own benefit is to cut the testator off from everyone else in their life. Turning visitors away at the door or refusing to give the phone to an older adult could be warning signs that a caregiver wants to isolate them from their family.
Your loved one expressed distorted opinions about family relationships
Emotional and psychological manipulation are often part of an undue influence attempt. A caregiver might refuse to let family members visit the testator and then tell that person that the rest of the family speak poorly of them or had social gatherings and didn’t invite them.
If your loved one ever expressed hurt or confusion at being excluded while you felt like they were the ones withdrawing from the relationship, caregiver manipulation might be the cause.
Your loved one’s final estate plan is a significant departure from earlier versions
Your loved one had always claimed that they would share their assets equally among the family, only to leave almost every child who took care of them over the last few months of their life. When a loved one drastically alters a last will to benefit their caregiver, that could be a strong indicator of undue influence.
Undue influence or the attempt to pressure someone into decisions they would not make otherwise can irrevocably alter someone’s estate plan, potentially causing harm to others in the family who lose part of their inheritance as a result. If you believe that your loved one’s estate plan is not what they intended because of undue influence, it’s wise to talk with an attorney.