Undue influence is an unhealthy persuasion or influence that one person can have over other, substituting the will or judgement of the manipulator for that of the victim. Seniors who are especially trusting, lonely or dependent on others tend to be especially vulnerable to undue influence. Often the manipulator is a relative or close friend of the victim, and sometimes the manipulator is someone who has been granted conservatorship or power of attorney for the victim.
Undue influence is often a factor in financial, physical or sexual senior abuse, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA). Undue influence is also one of several legal grounds for contesting a will or trust.
Indications your loved one may be affected by undue influence
Many of the signs of undue influence are the same as signs of other types of financial abuse or domestic violence. Some indicators include:
- Living conditions that do not match the victim’s ability to pay
- Missing checks or property
- Unusual banking activity
- A recent acquaintance moving into the victim’s home
- A caregiver showing unusual interest in the victim’s finances
The manipulator may show the victim unusual affection in an effort to charm him or her. The manipulator may also make promises for care in exchange for the victim’s assets. Alternatively, the manipulator may also create a situation where the victim is isolated from others and dependent on the manipulator. Then the manipulator may threaten to leave the victim or withhold appropriate nutrition or medication until the manipulator gets his or her way.
If you suspect a loved one may be under undue influence, it is important that you report your suspicions right away. Legal action may also be an appropriate step to ensure your loved one is safe from abuse.