Recently, our office received a favorable judgment regarding undue influence and financial abuse of an elderly individual. Elderly individuals can be at risk of being taken advantage of in the forms of undue influence and financial abuse when family, friends, and caretakers are in a position of power over the elderly individual.
In our order, the trial court relied on well settled case law, and included clarification of the factors (both emotional and psychological) that amount to undue influence and financial abuse by a caretaker for an elderly individual.
Undue influence occurs when a person uses their relationship with another person to cause them to act or make a decision that the person would have otherwise not chosen to do. An example of this is when a caretaker of an ill individual previously volunteered to do so for a set fee, and the caretaker influences the individual to leave a suspiciously large gift to the caretaker in their will, or when the caretaker influences the individual to write close family members out of their will.
Financial abuse occurs when an individual improperly uses the money of another for their own personal benefit.
The trial court relied on a model (called the IDEAL protocol) created by Bennett Blum, M.D. who works in the area of Forensic and Geriatric Psychiatry. Dr. Blum provides five factors that Courts should assess in determining undue influence and financial abuse of the elderly by their caretakers, which include: Isolation, Dependency, Emotional Manipulation or Exploitation of a Weakness, Acquiescence, and Loss.
These are tactics that may be used by friends, caretakers of the elderly adult, or other people that are close to the elderly adult. Dr. Blum shares incredible insight into the factors that lead to these situations for the elderly.
Click here to review the article by Dr. Bennett Blum, MD.
This article is a great resource for adult children who are worried about their aging parents. Generally, some of these pitfalls can be avoided with careful estate planning, along with the aging family member choosing multiple children to assist them as they enjoy their golden years.
If you are concerned that an elderly loved one in your life may be subject to any of the above tactics, please call Trapp Law, LLC today for a consultation.