Estate planning is an important process to make sure that other people distribute assets according to someone’s wishes after they die. For seniors, this terrain is often full of challenges.
Undue influence happens when an individual pressures an elder’s decisions regarding their estate. This can have severe consequences, undermining the very essence of autonomy that seniors deserve.
Older adults are particularly susceptible to undue influence. Cruel individuals may take advantage of an elder’s vulnerability, coercing them into making decisions contrary to their best interests. This exploitation can range from subtle persuasion to outright manipulation.
One of the most insidious outcomes of undue influence in estate planning is financial exploitation. Seniors, who often have valuable assets accumulated over a lifetime, become targets for those seeking personal gain. Influencers may convince them to change beneficiaries, give assets away or make dangerous financial investments.
Erosion of family harmony
Undue influence does not only affect the senior. Disputes may arise among heirs, as suspicions about the legitimacy of the estate plan surface.
Sibling rivalries and fractured relationships can emerge. Discussing the estate plan, which should provide a smooth transition of assets and prevent family fights, hurts instead of helps.
Lack of autonomy
Seniors facing undue influence are often stripped of their autonomy. This compromises their dignity and could also lead to the imposition of guardianship.
There are 51.4 million Americans who are 65 or older as of 2019. Undue influence casts a long shadow over the best-laid plans of people in this age group. Only through a concerted effort can people ensure that the legacy they leave behind reflects their true intentions.