Estate disputes rarely arise out of the ether. Typically, there are indications that all may not be aboveboard with a family member in the months or even years prior to their death.
Sometimes, a protracted and expensive legal battle can be averted if you tune in to what is going on with your elderly family member. Particularly, you should take note of who spends the most time around them and who may be influencing the decisions that they have made or are contemplating making. Below are some signs that a family member may be susceptible to undue influence regarding their will or estate.
A relative is cagey about the elderly person’s financial affairs
As people age, their ability to maintain their own affairs can diminish, causing others to step in. The problem here is that not all decisions are made in the person’s best interests. Caregivers and those with access to their financial accounts can divert funds and burn through the elderly person’s life savings.
Someone is living with them and dependent on them for financial support
Some adult children or grandchildren may move in with an elderly relative for reasons that have nothing to do with love or a sense of filial duty. They may be bleeding them dry financially and use their alleged caregiving as a cover to continue doing so.
The elderly person is isolated from others
Can you visit with your elderly relative alone or take them for a drive without their caregiver hovering in the background? If not, your loved one may be subject to their control, both physically and financially.
Recent changes have been made to estate planning documents
Has your elderly relative made a sudden change to their power of attorney or added a signatory on a financial account? They may have been unduly influenced or outright manipulated into making changes that allow others to have unfettered access to their resources and assets.
Take action now rather than later
If you suspect that financial abuse is occurring to your loved one, you can report your submissions to Elderly Protective Services (EPS). They can investigate and validate your concerns if warranted.
Sometimes, however, you may not be in a position to oversee your loved one as you would like to. This is especially true if you live far away and don’t get a chance to visit often. If you suspect that estate documents like wills, trusts or powers of attorney were altered to feather the nest of a disreputable relative or caregiver, you may need to launch a will contest or take other legal action.