While Californian adults of almost any age can potentially be targeted for financial abuse, most often, the victims are senior citizens. Elderly people, whether here in Newport Beach or elsewhere in the country, can be particularly vulnerable to this form of abuse.
What puts the elderly at risk?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), here are some examples of risk factors that can make a parent or other senior loved vulnerable to this form of manipulation.
- Poor physical, mental and/or neurological health
- Living with a younger relative, such as an adult child or roommate, with whom the person has a poor relationship
- A lack of social interaction, perhaps because of the death of relatives and friends
An elderly person with physical or mental infirmities like Alzheimer’s disease may need to depend on another person for help with cooking, bathing, cleaning and other everyday tasks.
This can attract unscrupulous people, whether they be related to the senior or a new “friend.” Through a combination of manipulation, persuasion and threats, they force their victim to change their estate plan to make the abuser the largest, or possibly sole, heir. The new will or trust would thus cut out children, grandchildren and others the victim truly intended to give their estate to after their death.
Setting things right again
You may have the right to challenge changes to a loved one’s will or other estate planning documents that you believe were made under duress. Changes made by a testator whose will was overcome by another party, such as through abuse, are not legally valid in California.