If you have an elderly relative living in a nursing home, you may want to increase your visits and phone calls. After all, according to AARP, 43% of older Americans struggle with loneliness and isolation. This loneliness can quicken the onset of dementia and lead to other negative health effects.
In addition to worrying about your loved one’s mental and physical health due to loneliness, you have another pressing concern you may want to address. Specifically, loneliness can make your elderly relative increasingly vulnerable to undue influence.
What is undue influence?
In the estate planning contest, undue influence happens when someone supplants his or her wishes over those of your elderly loved one. Often, those who are victims of undue influence end up making estate planning decisions that benefit the undue influencer to the detriment of the estate planner and his or her heirs.
Why can loneliness lead to undue influence?
If your aging loved one is feeling too lonely, he or she may attach to anyone that gives him or her some attention. Undue influencers can capitalize on this vulnerability by pretending to be trusted friends or even having romantic feelings for your relative.
What can you do to intervene?
You do not want anyone to take unfair advantage of your relative. You also do not want to lose your inheritance. Simply by maintaining close contact with him or her, you may keep loneliness from pushing your loved one into an undue influence trap. You also may want to review any estate planning documents your relative creates.
Your greatest opportunity to stop undue influence comes when your elderly loved one is still alive. Ultimately, though, if someone takes advantage of your relative, you may be able to contest the estate plan after his or her death.