You may sense something suspicious is going on with your elderly loved one. Perhaps another family member, neighbor or home health care provider is a little too involved in your loved one’s affairs, and it makes you uncomfortable. While you may feel a certain amount of relief that your loved one has someone close to look out for him or her, there is also the chance that something more sinister is going on.

Many older people are vulnerable to elder abuse, which may include physical abuse but often involves financial exploitation. If your loved one has some wealth in his or her estate, you may want to be aware of the signs that may indicate someone is trying to use undue influence to gain control of the estate and obtain the assets.

Something isn’t right

While it is sadly common for the elderly to fall victim to financial abuse from online or telephone scammers, you don’t expect someone you know to take advantage of a vulnerable family member. Unfortunately, this occurs too often, and the signs can be subtle and confusing. You may not want to believe something is wrong, but if you notice any of the following signs, you would be wise to reach out for help in taking the appropriate steps:

  • The other person is always with your loved one, even taking him or her to appointments with doctors or attorneys.
  • The other person speaks for your loved one, or your loved one defers to the other person when answering.
  • The other person prevents you from seeing your loved one, or your loved one seems reluctant to have a conversation with you in private.
  • Your loved one entrusts the other person with responsibilities or assets that seem inappropriate.
  • You or another family member have noticed money missing from accounts, changes in account information or belongings missing from your loved one’s house.
  • You notice changes in your loved one’s appearance, such as neglected hygiene, inappropriate clothing, or even bruises or other wounds.

Perhaps you recognize these signs only in hindsight. Maybe it never occurred to you that the person entrusted to care for your loved one was actually taking advantage. Now, the terms of the will clearly benefit the person whom you believe unduly influenced your loved one. This may not be a done deal. Although it can be quite a challenge, it is possible your situation may qualify for a will contest in which the courts will examine the circumstances surrounding the changes in your loved one’s estate plan.