What is undue influence?

As loved ones age, it is important to ensure they get the attention and care they deserve, especially as they go through the process of managing, reviewing and updating their estate plan and all associated documents.

Unfortunately, as a loved one ages, other people around them may try to take advantage of them, too. Undue influence is one way in which this may happen.

Defining undue influence

Cornell Law School defines undue influence, an issue that plagues many legal relationships. Undue influence occurs when one party involved in an agreement, contract or arrangement exerts control over the will of another party, thus manipulating them to act, behave or make decisions in a way that they would not have if it were not for the external influence.

In legal terms, this will often nullify the contract or arrangement between the two parties, making any contract unenforceable. In the case of a caretaker exerting undue influence to alter a victim’s way of handling their estate, the changes to the estate will often get reversed and the caretaker will have their power over the victim revoked.

Proving undue influence

To prove undue influence, a person must show that the victim in question has weaknesses that would allow another party to exercise persuasion over them. The perpetrator must also have a special relationship with the victim that would also cause their words to hold sway. Thus, the caretaker of a victim who is struggling due to the mental affects of age and age-related illnesses (dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.) would fit the bill for an undue influence case in every way.

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