While most disputes about estates occur after someone has passed away, sometimes our lawyers are asked to assist where there is concern about a vulnerable person being manipulated or coerced into some potentially harmful or risky course of action.
This kind of abuse can take all sorts of different shapes and sizes. In some cases, the vulnerable person is being asked to sign a new power of attorney to someone who may not be trustworthy. In others, the issue is adding new people to title to property, allowing access to bank accounts, or even entering into a marriage with someone he or she just met.
It goes without saying that vulnerable people are entitled to protection from abuse. However, it also goes without saying that a person who still has the capacity to manage their own affairs is allowed to make their own decisions, and even their own mistakes. The line beyond which protection becomes necessary is a fine one, and well-meaning family members sometimes make things worse by a heavy-handed approach that feels insulting to their elderly parent or relative.
If you are worried about vulnerable person in your life who might be undergoing of this type of abuse, you should know that there are some legal and practical tools that can be used to address or minimize the risk. These sorts of scenarios are often very difficult and require a great degree of sensitivity, and you should make sure to consult the appropriate professional advisors.
If you have questions about how to protect a loved one or your own estate plan, contact our Wills & Estate Team – we’re here to help