What is Undue Influence?
Undue influence occurs when a person takes advantage of another by using his or her position of power to exploit the trust, dependency and fear of another. As a result, of this influence the victim loses the free will to make decisions for him or herself. Undue Influence is a form of elder abuse that occurs throughout the nation, as well as here in California.
Who Does this Happen to?
The elderly because of their mental and physical health needs are particularly vulnerable to undue influence. Especially at risk, are those that are recently widowed, geographically isolated or who have had significant or unexplained emotional changes. Although older white women, living alone, are found to be the most likely victims of financial elder abuse-elder abuse can happen anywhere and to anyone.
Risk Factors for Undue Influence :
•· Isolation: the perpetrator often takes the elderly person away from family and friends in order to have greater influence.
•· Dependency: the perpetrator makes the victim reliant on him or her. This takes on many forms ranging from relying on the perpetrator to make meals to having the perpetrator help pay the bills.
•· Emotional Manipulation and/or Exploitation of a Vulnerability: the perpetrator takes advantage of how the victim feels. For example the perpetrator might take advantage of victim’s feelings of guilty and indebtedness because the person helps the victim with their basic needs.
•· Trusting Relationship: the perpetrator will try to establish a close relationship to the victim, for example that of a caretaker or a close friend.
•· Active Involvement in legal and financial transactions: the perpetrator becomes actively involved in the victim’s legal and financial transactions.
•· Acquiescence: the victim begins to passively go along with any transactions or actions of the perpetrator.
•· Loss/ Financial Loss: a financial loss of money by the victim
•· Mental Cognition/Lack of Capacity: the victim has a lowered ability to think for oneself
What are the “Red Flags” of Undue Influence?
Although undue influence can be difficult to spot because every situation is unique, there are a few signs one can look for. First, a drastic change in spending habits can signal possible undue influence; for example, a person who lived his or her entire life frugally now begins making extravagant purchases. Next, a person who changes his or her will in a way that is inconsistent with the prior will. Note that not all cases of undue influence have these red flags.
The Evans Law Firm focuses on elder abuse litigation in California. If you believe that you or a loved one have been the victim of undue influence, contact the lawyers at the Evans Law Firm toll free at 1-888-50EVANS for a free and confidential consultation, or email email@example.com