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Undue influence occurs when someone tries to manipulate an elderly person for financial gain. It often focuses on their estate. For instance, someone could emotionally manipulate an elderly person and convince that person to leave them the lion’s share of the estate in their will, cutting out other heirs. Such people often target elderly individuals who are suffering from dementia and other issues that make it hard for them to grasp what is going on.

There are two main sources of cases involving undue influence: 51 percent of cases involve complete strangers, while 49 percent of cases involve caregivers, friends or family members.

While this second category may seem broad, it basically encompasses anyone who knows the person and who that person may depend on in some way. Medical professionals and nurses could also fall into this category when an elderly person is vulnerable and they are in a position of power. Some people will use their influence over a senior just to get whatever they want.

“These people aren’t just taking the person’s financial resources, they’re taking their trust and emotional well-being, too,” said one expert who studies these events.

A case like that has tragic undertones, but strangers can be even more ruthless. They don’t care. They pick their targets carefully and try to use them to get what they want. It’s not a slow shifting of goals from friendship to financial gain. They were after the money and the estate from the beginning, and they’ll do anything they can to get it.

Do you suspect that a loved one has been influenced like this while creating an estate plan? It’s important to act quickly and to know what options you have.