If your elderly parents have not yet written a will, they certainly are not alone. After all, as AARP notes, roughly 20% of those over the age of 72 have not prepared an estate plan. Even if your parents are healthy and active, you may want to encourage them to prepare some critical planning documents.
Dying without a will not only put your parents’ assets in jeopardy, but it may also endanger your inheritance. If someone unduly influences your mom and dad, their estate plan may not represent their genuine wishes, however. Sadly, elderly individuals are often vulnerable to undue influence.
Isolation can be bad at any age, but seniors may experience a variety of negative health consequences from it. If your parents live far from relatives and have few friends, they inadvertently may allow someone to manipulate them. Therefore, during their estate planning process, you may want to maintain close contact with your parents.
If your parents have dementia or another cognitive disorder, they may lack the legal capacity necessary to draft a comprehensive estate plan. On the other hand, even if they are mentally healthy, your parents may have some cognitive decline. An undue influencer may seek to monopolize on this.
An undue influencer does not have to be a stranger. In fact, relatives and close friends often seek to gain an unfair advantage over others. To keep the peace, your parents may relent. Consequently, if you are in the middle of a family squabble, you may want to watch for possible undue influence.
Ultimately, if you believe your parents’ estate plan shows signs of undue influence, you may have little choice but to contest the plan in court.