Loneliness and isolation are exceedingly common in older Americans. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 25% of those over the age of 65 are chronically lonely. Loneliness can be extremely dangerous, of course, as it often exacerbates serious physical and mental health conditions.
If your older relative is too lonely, he or she also may be at increased risk of falling victim to undue influence when planning his or her estate. Undue influence happens when someone supplants his or her wishes over those of your relative. How can you protect a lonely relative from undue influence, though?
Step up your contact
Lonely individuals are often desperate for social contact. If you suspect your elderly relative may be feeling lonely, you probably want to step up the contact you have with him or her. Just as making regular visits may help, having more phone calls also can do the trick.
When your elderly loved one is going through the estate planning process, you can combat undue influence by offering assistance. Helping your relative find an estate planning attorney, driving him or her to legal appointments and even providing input can keep your loved one from making potentially catastrophic mistakes.
Be ready to contest
You may not learn about undue influence until after your loved one has died. If that happens, you should be ready to contest the will. Remember, undue influence is a legitimate and common reason to attack the validity of anyone’s estate plan.
Ultimately, if the possibility of contesting the will after your loved one dies makes you feel uneasy, you should take every opportunity to stop undue influence during his or her lifetime.