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What should I know about undue influence?

A last will and testament should be composed without any negative influence on the testor. Unfortunately, some Iowa residents can become caught in the snare of an abusive manipulator who will use undue influence to make the vulnerable party craft a will that will benefit the manipulator. Wills made under undue influence may be thrown out by a court, so if you suspect a relative may be a victim of undue influence, here are some things to look out for so you can protect your relative’s inheritance from a malicious party.

According to the American Bar Association, part of the challenge of recognizing undue influence is that it often occurs out of sight. Undue influence can involve an abuser isolating an older individual from the support of others to create dependence on the abuser. A malicious party may use a number of tactics, such as deception, fraud, duress, or any form of pressure that will cause the vulnerable party to provide the abuser with assets, property or an eventual inheritance.

Generally, the elderly and the infirm are the most vulnerable to undue influence. Malicious parties may gain control of an elderly relative’s health care and use it to influence the relative to provide the abuser with greater control over the relative’s finances. Abusers can also manipulate people who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, an elderly person who cannot move around easily can be restricted to a domicile or put in a home by a malicious relative.

It is also important to note that a person with full agency can still be a victim of undue influence. A person that retains good health and an active life in home and at work can still be manipulated by a relative, a friend, a work colleague, a caregiver, anyone in the person’s personal orbit. Basically, undue influence takes place when a manipulator uses excessive influence to get a person to set aside his or her own wishes in favor of the manipulator’s desires.

Be aware that this information is only educational in its intent. Do not read it as legal counsel for your particular situation.

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