3 issues that could open the door to undue influence

| Mar 25, 2021 | Estate Litigation

Many Nevada residents would love to have the chance to care for an aging loved one full time. Unfortunately, most individuals have children of their own, jobs and other obligations that essentially make it impossible to take on the added responsibility of providing round-the-clock care to an elderly family member, especially if that individual has specific medical needs. 

Often, families will decide to enlist the help of a professional caretaker or have a trusted person from outside the family come to provide care. While this may seem like a burden lifted from your shoulders, you may want to remain vigilant in ensuring the caretaker does not overstep certain boundaries, particularly by trying to gain something from your loved one’s estate. 

Undue influence 

It is an unfortunate reality that some unscrupulous parties will try to take advantage of someone in a vulnerable position. For example, a caretaker may see that an elderly individual has assets of value or considerable wealth and try to influence that person into giving the caretaker gifts or even writing the caretaker into the will. To some, this may seem absurd, but really, undue influence is a serious issue that affects many families. 

Typically, families do not discover undue influence until the loved one passes and the estate shockingly goes in large part to the caretaker. If you hope to prevent undue influence, you may want to watch out for these common warning signs: 

  • Isolation: If it seems that the caretaker is intentionally trying to keep you or other family members away from your loved one, the caretaker may be attempting to isolate your loved one in efforts to exert more control over his or her decisions. 
  • Dependency on one person: Similar to isolation, if your loved one relies on no one but the caretaker to handle personal affairs, the possibility exists that the caretaker could have more opportunity to unduly influence your loved one. 
  • Vulnerabilities: In many cases, elderly individuals begin to experience a diminished mental capacity, making them vulnerable to coercion or suggestion. This diminished capacity could cause confusion that makes it easier for a caretaker to take advantage of your loved one. 

It is important to note that undue influence does not only come from hired help or caretakers that are not members of the family. In fact, a relative who believes that he or she should get more from the estate could also take steps to influence your loved one into changing his or her will. 

Do you suspect undue influence? 

Despite best efforts to prevent it, it is possible that undue influence could happen and that questions could arise regarding the validity of your loved one’s will. If this happens, you may want to remember that you have legal options for contesting the will.