What Should You Know about Undue Influence?

As your loved ones age, they might grow increasingly susceptible to outside influence as their own mental faculties begin to weaken. Unfortunately, abusers and manipulators wait on the outskirts for these opportunities and they are not afraid to take advantage of the vulnerable.

You will often see this in cases involving undue influence. But what exactly is this phenomenon? How do you identify it, and what can you do about it?

What is undue influence?

Cornell Law School sets the definition for undue influence. Undue influence occurs with the involvement of a minimum of two parties. One party serves as the perpetrator, while the other party is the victim. The perpetrator then exerts control over the victim in order to sway their opinion.

Under this form of influence, the victim will make decisions that seem out of character. They may even do things that they would have never done if they were thinking straight at the time, which is often what tips loved ones and relatives off to the fact that something is terribly wrong.

Positions of power and sway

In order to have an undue influence case, the perpetrator also needs to hold a position that would cause the victim to hold their word in higher regard automatically, too. This can include anyone from caretakers to legal advisors to family members or friends. The perpetrator essentially abuses their trust to get the victim to do what they want.

The purpose is often to rewrite a will or parts of an estate plan to better suit the goals of the perpetrator. If you notice any suspicious red flags like out of character behavior, you can speak to legal counsel to decide how to combat this potential case of undue influence.