The Baby Boomer generation is approaching, with some already entering, the retirement phase of their lives. “This is setting up a scenario where the U.S. will witness the largest wealth transfer among generations in its history,” said Attorney Kevin Lyons. “Another upward, but discouraging, trend is the increase in legal disputes involving the elderly and those in a position to exert influence over them.”
If you have an elderly parent who lives far from you, or you are unable to help due to your own life circumstances, it can be difficult to make sure their financial, medical, and emotional needs are being met. A trusted family member who lives closer and is able to provide assistance, or a trusted caretaker, can be a blessing in these situations. But, too often, a family member or caretaker exploits their position and exerts undue influence over the elderly parent. Undue influence is a legal cause of action where a wrongdoer substitutes his or her own desire for that of the parent. The wrongful acts that give rise to a claim for undue influence can closely resemble the good acts of a family member of a trusted caretaker, making it hard to detect until it is too late. After the death of the elderly parent, the Will or Trust can and should be contested if undue influence was present at or around the time of Will or Trust signing.
Because the line between a do-gooder and a wrongdoer can sometimes be blurred, family members should be aware of the following 5 signs to ensure that nothing underhanded is occurring.
- There is a fiduciary (legal or ethical) relationship between the elderly parent and someone who receives a substantial benefit from the Will or Trust. In a typical situation, an adult child or other caregiver will be in charge of the elderly parent’s finances or estate.
- The elderly parent is in a dependent situation, and relies on the beneficiary, who has a position of dominance over the elderly parent.
- The elderly parent demonstrates confidence and trust in the beneficiary.
- The beneficiary is instrumental in the development of, changes to, or execution of the Will or Trust.
- The elderly parent is suffering from mental illness or physical ailments, making him or her more susceptible to having his or her own wishes and desires substituted for those of the beneficiary.
If you suspect your elderly parent, family member, or friend is being unduly influenced by someone who stands to benefit financially or otherwise, if you are taking care of an elderly person’s financials and want to know more about protecting yourself against baseless claims of wrongdoing, or if you suspect a Will or Trust should be invalidated due to undue influence, please contact Kevin Lyons, Attorney, for more information.
Kevin Lyons, Attorney | Lyons Law Group, LLC | 5333 Main St., Downers Grove, IL 60515 | (630) 852-2529