Signs and Symptoms of Undue Influence of Elders


Elder takes action inconsistent with his or her life history. Documents and actions run counter to the person's previous long-time values and beliefs. For instance, one competent man bought a horse farm within a year after his wife died. Neighbors, who later were tried and convicted of using undue influence, told the man it was a good investment. They encouraged him to think of it as a silent investment. The neighbors arranged the purchase using their realtor and the man's money. When a nephew (a lawyer) pointed out to his uncle that the property was not in his name, the neighbors changed the title to joint tenancy, thereby ensuring they own the property, buildings, and horses when the 86-year-o1d man dies. The man had never had anything to do with horses before becoming involved with his new neighbors.

  • Elder makes sudden changes with regard to financial management. Examples include cashing in insurance policies or changing titles on bank accounts or real property.

  • Elder changes his or her will and previous disposition of assets.

  • Elder is taken to practitioners different than those he or she has always trusted. Examples include bankers, stockbrokers, attorneys, physicians, and realtor.

  • Elder is systematically isolated from or is continually monitored with others who care about him or her.

  • Someone suddenly moves into the person's home or the elder is moved into someone's home under the guise of providing better care.

  • Someone attempts to get income checks directed differently than the usual arrangement.

  • Documents suddenly are signed frequently as the elder nears death.

  • A history of mistrust exists in the elder' s family, especially with financial affairs, and the elder places unusual trust in newfound acquaintances.

  • Someone promises to provide lifelong care in exchange for property on the elder's death.

  • Statements of the elder and the alleged abuser vary concerning the eider's affairs or disposition of assets

  • A power imbalance exists between the parties in matters of finances or health.

  • Someone shows unfairness to the weaker party in a transaction. The stronger person unduly benefits by the transaction.

  • The elder is never left alone with anyone. No one is allowed to speak to the elder without the alleged abuser having a way of finding out about it.

  • Unusual patterns arise in the eider's finances. For instance, numerous checks are written out to "cash," always in round numbers and often in large amounts.

  • The elder reports meeting a "wonderful new friend who makes me feel young again." The elder becomes suspicious of family and begins to avoid family gatherings.

  • The elder is pressed into a transaction without being given time to reflect or contact trusted advisors.

Source: STEVEN C. Fox. D.O. • 125 North Halsted Street, Suite 303 • Chicago, Illinois 60661