What is Undue Influence and How Can You Prevent It?

As loved ones get older, their family often worries about them—both mentally and physically. One particular fear is their loved one being unduly influenced to do something they may not want to do. Seniors tend to be more susceptible to this undue influence because they are more likely to depend on others for daily activities like help with transportation and paying bills. While undue influence may be easy to name, individuals often have difficulty spotting it. Below are common questions and solutions to identifying undue influence and assisting Houston seniors who are in such a situation.

What Situations Increase Vulnerability and Who Can Exert Undue Influence?

While any adult can be a victim of undue influence, there are certain situations that increase a person’s vulnerability—and thus, their likelihood to be exploited. These situations include, but are not limited to, cognitive impairments, illness, isolation, and physical ailments. Because these circumstances increase a person’s dependency—as they need others to help them—it is more likely that an individual will exert undue influence on them.

There is not a specific category of people that exert an undue influence on the elderly. However, often family members can put pressure on seniors that could be considered exploitation. This may include convincing them to amend their will or change their power of attorney. While it may be seen as harmless by some because it is influenced by family, these interactions should not be taken lightly. Additionally, as caretakers can be aware of an elderly patient’s personal information, they have the knowledge to exploit a senior.

What Scenarios Should I Look Out For?

Unfortunately, it is not often simple to spot undue influence; however, there are common signals that loved ones should look out for to see if their elder loved one is being unduly influenced. These scenarios include the elder being isolated from family and friends, dramatic changes in financial transactions, and questionable signatures and handwriting on documents.

How Can I Protect Against Undue Influence?

Because undue influence can be difficult to detect as it is occurring, lawyers, law enforcement officers and aging network providers are trained to help in these situations. Elder law attorneys are trained to screen older adults for exploitation and elder abuse during their initial interviews. They then provide advice on how to get seniors out of these exploitative situations. Additionally, learning about the risk factors and common manipulative circumstances can help family members to mitigate the harm before it gets worse. As an additional measure, loved ones can also take legal action to fix undue influence by recovering assets or voiding documents that were amended only because of this impermissible influence.

Because undue influence and elder exploitation is a serious and complicated issue, loved ones worried about their senior family members should contact an experienced elder law attorney to help.

Contact a Houston Elder Law Attorney

If you or a loved one needs help with an elder law issue—especially if you are worried that they are being unduly influenced—contact the Houston elder law attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. We assist seniors and their families in making long-term care decisions and ensure their best interests are being taken into account. Because our attorneys are knowledgeable in estate planning and elder law matters, we understand how stressful and complicated these situations can be. To learn how we can help your elderly loved one stay safe and prepare for the future, give us a call today at 713-333-8900 and schedule a free consultation.

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