Estate Planning and Elder Abuse

One type of elder abuse is in the area of financial planning - specifically estate planning. This can include wills, trusts, power of attorney documents, life insurance beneficiaries and other important parts of an elderly person's estate. Any or all of these could be at risk if a manipulative individual succeeds at exerting "undue influence" over a vulnerable person.

In order to prove "undue influence" in the particulars of a will, for example, several factors would be addressed through a will contest in probate court. (This occurs following the will-maker's death.)

· Was the will-maker susceptible because of physical or mental illness or other frailty?

· Did the elderly will-maker have a relationship of dependency on or trust with the person suspected of exerting under influence?

· Are the assets listed in the will (property, funds, etc.) left in an unexpected way without obvious reasons?

· Has the person suspected of undue influence changed or substituted content in the will?

This can be a difficult process to complete due to many factors, including the absence of the will-maker. Since they are unable to testify about their reasons, the court will rely on witnesses who were familiar with the will-maker. The relationship between the suspected person and the elderly individual will be an important focus of the questions.

Therefore, it is recommended that you contact our office to discuss any concerns you may have about estate planning and elder abuse. Our attorneys can work with you through this difficult situation so that the true intentions of your loved ones are met.

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