If you have elderly parents, you may want to encourage them to put their financial affairs in order. After all, creating a comprehensive estate plan is one of the more effective ways for them to maintain control over end-of-life matters.
You can probably trust your parents’ estate plan to reflect their genuine intentions. Still, senior citizens are often susceptible to undue influence. This type of manipulation happens when someone supplants his or her interests over your parents’ wishes.
It is not uncommon for seniors to experience both loneliness and isolation. If your mother and father have lost contact with close family members and friends, they may be looking for a caregiver or another person to fill the void. If this person has unscrupulous intentions, he or she may be able to cajole your parents into drastically changing their estate plan.
When you think about mental incapacity, you may envision an all-or-nothing change. That often is not the case, though, as older individuals tend to lose mental capacity over time. Put simply, if your parents are not capable of making financial and legal decisions, someone may be waiting to take advantage of their cognitive decline.
According to a recent study in the Journal of Psychiatry Research, older individuals often experience extreme ageism. This type of discrimination includes differential treatment because of actual or perceived age.
If your parents are sensitive to ageism, they may be reluctant to ask relatives and friends for help with complex estate planning matters. This, of course, may leave them vulnerable to undue influence from someone they know less well.
If you can stop undue influence while your parents are alive, you can protect both their interests and your inheritance. After they die, though, it may be necessary to contest the estate plan to ensure you receive your fair share of your parents’ wealth.