Recognizing Undue Influence or Financial Exploitation of Your Elderly Loved One

Elderly man undue influence

Undue influence and financial exploitation of the elderly is on the rise with new scams and tactics. It is imperative that we become even more diligent in recognizing the signs of financial exploitation and undue influence. According to the ABA, American senior financial abuse is increasing in frequency and cost victims at least $2.9 billion last year.

Often, elder financial abuse is perpetrated by a trusted friend, caregiver or family member. It is often difficult to see it coming, until it is too late. Often it is discovered after the victim has passed away and the family learns of a drastic change in the Last Will and Testament, favoring the influencer.

There are many indicators and signs to look for, if you are concerned that a loved one is being unduly influenced. The law firm of Katzman & Sugden provide a list of indicators of undue influence.

Some Indicators of Undue Influence

  • The influencer isolates the elder from their family and friends.
  • The influencer speaks ill of the elder’s children, grandchildren or close family members.
  • The elder’s level of independence shifts drastically.
  • The elder exhibits severe mood swings and memory changes.
  • The influencer takes charge of all of the elder’s financial matters.

If you suspect undue influence, you may want to start gathering any evidence to show to your attorney. You may be advised to contact Adult Protective Services or Victim’s Advocate in your city. You may also be advised to seek guardianship of your elderly loved one in order to stop the influencer. Beware — even though you may be legally advised to do so, the influencer can use this against you with the elder, or in court, as an accusation of undue influence against you. Remember, the influencer has every incentive to twist the truth to the elder and any advocates of the elder. Document everything carefully.

Elderly woman victim of undue influence
computer screen with file boxes
  • Any new Power of Attorney (Health or Durable) naming the influencer as the Attorney in Fact
  • Any documents that might show financial changes made by the elder in favor of the influencer
  • Any documents showing financial changes in beneficiaries by the elder that greatly differ from previous agreements
  • Any 911 phone call recordings that might reveal the mental status of the elder, the confidential relationship between the elder and the influencer or any information from emergency events involving the elder and influencer
  • Any documents or notes from caregivers, nurses or staff who may have witnessed interactions between the elder and influencer
  • Any statements from caregivers, nurses or staffs in regards to personal interactions or observations of the elder or influencer

If you suspect your elder loved one is falling prey to undue influence, you can take immediate steps to protect them by contacting your local Adult Protective Services agency, or you can contact NAPSA for more information on an agency near you.

Some documents or materials that may be useful as evidence could include:

  • Any emails showing past relationship between the elder and yourself or other friends and family members (including frequency of these communications)
  • A calendar showing dates of interactions between the elder and yourself or other friends and family members to establish a pattern of behavior
  • Any emails from the influencer showing control, usurping you or other family members, negative comments about you or other family members, etc.
  • Any financial documents that might disclose gifts from the elder to the influencer
Undue influence on the elderly man