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Is an undue influencer trying to steal your inheritance?

Your parents worked hard throughout their lives to build wealth. While your mother and father likely have enjoyed the benefits of their fortune, they also may have promised you an inheritance. If your parents’ estate plan has changed recently, an undue influencer may be trying to steal what is rightfully yours.

Undue influence happens when someone supplants his or her wishes over those of an estate planner. If you suspect your parents may have fallen victim to manipulation, you may need to act quickly to protect your inheritance.

Who is prone to undue influence?

While a skilled undue influencer may be able to take advantage of virtually anyone, certain individuals typically are more vulnerable to unscrupulous individuals. According to the National Center on Law and Elder Rights, the following groups may be particularly at risk:

  • Those who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
  • Those who have lost contact with friends or family members
  • Those who have mental impairments or certain medical conditions
  • Those who have substantial wealth

What are some signs of undue influence?

If someone is unduly influencing your parents, you probably cannot expect your mother or father to tell you about this form of elder abuse. You can, however, watch for the signs of undue influence to appear in your parents’ estate plan. These may include any of the following:

  • Property distribution that makes little or no sense to you
  • Decisions that run counter to your parents’ interests
  • New beneficiaries who are unfamiliar to you

Under Massachusetts law, undue influence is grounds to contest an estate plan after your parents’ death. Ultimately, though, if you can identify undue influence when your parents are still alive, you may be able to stop it before it puts your inheritance in jeopardy.

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