When dealing with an estate plan, it is possible for things to feel overwhelming and out of hand quickly due to the complex nature of the process.
Things often get more complicated when a vulnerable person is the grantor of an estate. Unfortunately, manipulators will often attempt to use this vulnerability in a way that benefits them and harms the victim.
Defining undue influence
Cornell Law School discusses manipulation against grantors in an estate plan. Specifically, manipulators in this situation have something they want out of the grantor’s estate. Either they want a larger chunk of the assets of the estate itself, or they want more control over the estate, often with the same end goal in mind.
To reach this end, manipulators will use abusive tactics and try to defraud, confuse or trick the victim into signing away their rights.
What to watch for
First, keep an eye out for isolation tactics. This involves the manipulator trying to cut all ties the grantor has to other people. They continue to come up with reasons why the grantor cannot meet with other relatives or loved ones. They control the grantor’s schedule with an iron fist. They hover and do not allow anyone to speak to the grantor alone.
Additionally, watch out for sudden changes in the way a grantor views or speaks about a person, especially if it goes from a negative opinion to a positive one. Manipulators will often use illnesses like dementia in order to take advantage of someone without a clear mental state, so the loved ones of these individuals want to pay special mind to any such changes.