While estate planning can benefit younger people, it is a necessity for the elderly or those who have been afflicted by an illness.
While the elderly or those who are ill can still be fully independent and aware of their surroundings, in some cases, they can be more vulnerable to manipulation. Manipulation has no place in estate planning because a will and other documents must reflect the true wishes of those drafting them.
Manipulation in terms of drafting or modifying a will in favor of the manipulator is typically referred to as undue influence. Outlined below are “red flags” that someone may be trying to influence your loved one’s estate plans:
A friend that comes out of nowhere
You’ve always been a big part of your loved one’s life, so you know who else they are involved with. In recent months, a distant relative has become much less distant. They know that your family member has considerable wealth and they have also become aware that they are struggling in terms of their physical well-being.
Could this be a ploy to try and force their way into becoming a beneficiary? If this individual only appeared after hearing about the ill health of your loved one, then it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on the situation.
Bad-mouthing other potential heirs
Sad as it is, arguments around wills and other estate planning documents are quite common. Money can bring out the worst in people.
Has someone made up a rumor about you or another family member that you know is false? What might the motive for this be? Could they be trying to tarnish your good name so that you’re disinherited, which in turn leaves them a larger share?
One way to combat undue influence is to ensure that your loved one has legal guidance on their side when carrying out estate planning activities. An experienced estate planning attorney will recognized these red flags and will speak privately with their client about those concerns. This will help ensure that their final wishes are truly honored.