Some people are more likely to be swayed by undue influence than others. While these cases almost always target someone who is already fragile due to age or sickness, for instance, that does not mean all targets are equal.
Part of understanding when and how undue influence occurs lies in looking at what factors make it easier for someone to be manipulated. A few common examples include the following:
- The person is suffering from depression. This may lead them to feel like they really do not care what happens with their estate. They may also become withdrawn, meaning they are primarily influenced by just one person.
- A spouse already passed away. People sometimes become more vulnerable when they no longer have a spouse to support them. That person influenced them the most before, but now someone else can step in to fill that void.
- The person has high anxiety. They also might feel nervous and over-concerned. The person carrying out the manipulation may be able to prey on this anxiety and twist the way the other individual feels.
- The person suffers from a diminished mental capacity. This is perhaps the most common circumstance. For instance, an elderly person with dementia may struggle to make prudent decisions on their own. This makes it very easy for someone else to come in and make those decisions for them, guiding their actions. They never even realize that it is happening.
Undue influence is nothing to take lightly. It has a drastic impact on the estate and the family. Those victimized (and their survivors) must understand all of their legal options.