How Much Influence is Too Much?

Having adult children actively involved with their mother or father, when the other spouse has passed is a blessing.  However, sometimes too much of their influence can create unwanted and burdensome legal problems, especially if a parent is having diminished mental capacity. In an article from, “How to Stay Respectful (and Legal) In Parents’ Estate Planning,” adult children are advised to consider that there is such a thing as too much influence, referred to as “undue influence” and every state has some kind of undue influence law that addresses this problem.

To prove that someone has exerted undue influence, a checklist is used and all the items on the checklist must be proven by the party asserting this has occurred. Undue influence is considered to have happened when:

  • The deceased person was susceptible to the undue influence
  • The accused had the opportunity to influence the decedent
  • The accused was influencing the decedent to gain favor
  • The accused was in a position of trust and/or authority over the decedent

Notice that undue influence is far more than having more than one conversation with Uncle Ben about his wishes. Its focus is on manipulation—large amounts of it. It happens mostly in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, where someone will build trust with a senior person who is in a vulnerable state. An adult child would normally have this trust, especially if they are the key caretaker. Over time, the elderly parent becomes dependent on one child or one caretaker for daily care and then they become vulnerable to being manipulated.

Undue influence generally involves changes to the estate plan—sometimes many changes or sweeping changes in a short period of time. Other family members are often suddenly disinherited or a large cash transfer to the person takes place, with no prior discussion with other family members.

Speak with an elder law attorney if you are concerned that you (or a loved one) are being pressured to change your estate plan (or you see evidence of large amounts of money being transferred out of your loved one’s accounts). Elder financial abuse is often the result of undue influence and an experienced elder law attorney and the proper authorities will be able to help.

Reference: (May 24, 2018) “How to Stay Respectful (and Legal) In Parents’ Estate Planning”

Hear From Our Clients

“On the threshold of retirement, we finally decided to quit thinking we could self-prepare the requisite documents. We had previously had only a very simple will. We needed the necessary legal (including updated will) & health care docs but didn’t want to deal with the time & complication of legalese. Cindy made the process relatively painless. She took the time to explain and answer questions without trying to upsell services. We were done in 2 meetings plus the reading of emailed drafts. In addition to preparing the documents, Nelson Eldercare will be there when our adult children need advice on executing the plans we’ve put in place.So glad it’s behind us and would recommend Cindy and her helpful staff.”

- Bonnie

Cindy and her company treat their clients like family. Nelson’s offers clear, direct, and honest guidance in planning for your families security and future. No one wants to actively sit down and make these decisions, but Nelson’s makes this process seamless. I was so impressed with their willingness to answer all questions big or small. So glad I made the decision have them help my mom and dad and now me. You can’t go wrong with Nelson’s Elder Care Law.

- Hope

The very best elder law attorney and staff anyone could ever ask for! I have referred a number of clients to Cindy and she never disappoints. She is kind, caring, and extremely thorough in making sure everything is completed as it should be. I highly recommend Cindy for anyone needing lawyer services; she truly goes above and beyond for every client she helps and has had a huge impact in so many peoples’ lives. Thank you, Cindy and staff, for everything that you do- I’m so glad to know you!

- Kerri

I heard Cindy’s presentation at a Senior Luncheon at my church, and was very impressed. She helped my daughter and me understand many aspects of elder law. Josh has also been very helpful in my planning to enter an independent living situation . I have told many friends about them.

- Charlotte

Cindy and the Nelson Elder Care Law team are trustworthy and helpful. They are the experts in elder care law. At Leaf Cremation, we entrust our families to the care of the Nelson team when their services are needed.

- Pierce