posted by Eric Schutzbank
Taking care of a deceased person’s assets and business affairs adds stress to an already emotional situation. Adding to the anxiety, families sometimes discover their loved one has been taken advantage of or manipulated by the relative they entrusted to provide care. A vulnerable elderly person is easy prey to someone who wants to manipulate them by seeking to be a beneficiary of their estate to the possible exclusion of the rest of the family. If a family member suspects this has occurred, do they have any legal recourse and/or means to protect the Elder who is being financially exploited? Yes. The first step is to make a report to your local Elder Services Agency so that a protective services investigation can be initiated in accord with M. G. L. c. 19A. Please keep in mind that if the Elder is deemed competent, he or she can legally refuse to accept the services/protections provided by the mandated Elder Services Agencies in Massachusetts. What is undue influence and how can it be proved?
Undue Influence Defined
As the name implies, undue influence means that a vulnerable person was influenced in a manipulative way. Generally, a powerful individual has used unfair means such as deception, exploitation of the elder’s disabilities or weaknesses, has fostered dependency, played on fears, emotionally embarrassed or blackmailed the elder or isolated the elder from other honest family members or others the elder would ordinarily trust. The perpetrators use various techniques and manipulations to gain power and compliance, exploiting the trust, dependency and fear of older adults. Over time, the perpetrators gain control over the decision making of their unwitting victims. [Read more...]