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Sep 4, 2012 by |

Elders and Undue Influence

By The Evans Law Firm of The Evans Law Firm on Tuesday, September 4, 2012.


Elderly adults are especially vulnerable to undue influence, the exploitation of the vulnerable elder victim for the financial gain of their abuser. The likelihood of undue influence increases when there is a: confidential relationship, physical dependence of the elderly person and the elderly person suffers from depression or other cognitive impairments.

A study, conducted in San Francisco, CA, reviewed cases of Undue Influence across the states. The study found that the alleged abusers were often persons close to the elderly persons such as friends, neighbors, family members and only 25% were scam artists. Three models have been brought forth to help identify the types of persons most vulnerable to becoming victims. Collectively the models pinpoint factors that increase the prevalence of Undue Influence to include: isolation of elder from family and friends, dependency on the perpetrator, emotional manipulation of the victim, acquiescence of the victim because of previous factors and financial loss, trusting relationship with abuser, monetary loss to the victim, financial transactions done by the abuser, physical disability, substance use, and cognitive impairments of the victim.

There are two case studies the article discusses. The first case study involves an 88-year old gentleman, Mr. J, who wanted to change his prior will and as a result leave his house and money for tuition to his grandson that lived with Mr. J. The article discusses that dependency on the grandson and living closely with him may have influenced Mr. J. When this case was evaluated by an expert, it was determined that Mr. J was not acting as a result of undue influence because he was not isolated, and he was making changes that reflected his long term values (ex: education).

The second case study discussed a 77-year old woman, who developed a relationship with a contractor. Ms. K became less social, and did not talk about her new friend, the contractor. She had also changed her financial habits -purchasing a car and furnishings. When Ms. K fell and broke her hip her new friend, the contractor, visited her at the hospital with some legal paperwork -including a quit claim deed and a power of attorney form. Ms. K was acting as a result of undue influence because she became isolated from her family and friends and had become more dependant, and had some mild cognitive impairment. This case clearly showed undue influence.

This type of elder abuse can be prevented with the prudence of physicians, caretakers and persons close to the elderly person. These persons should be watchful of the factors discussed that make elders more vulnerable to this type of abuse.

If you live in California and want to talk to a lawyer about these or other issues related to elder financial abuse or deferred annuities, contact The Evans Law Firm by email at or call at 888-503-8267.

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