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Why undue influence is hard to define

Undue influence can occur in various scenarios, but there is currently no strict definition for the term. This is partially because pressure may be exerted on a person behind closed doors where witnesses are not present. Furthermore, adults not under the care of a guardian are allowed to do whatever they wish with their property. For instance, it is not illegal for a Florida company to ask a person to send it money over the phone.

If an adult makes a decision while of sound mind, the law provides little recourse for that person even if he or she were pressured to make it. In some states, undue influence may occur if a person is vulnerable because of his or her age or declining cognitive function. It can also occur if a victim is pressured to make a decision by someone who has a level of authority. This could include a trustee, a family member or anyone else managing that person's affairs.

Finally, undue influence could occur if an individual experiences a significant financial loss because of his or her actions. Implementing a standard definition for undue influence nationwide may become more important as time passes. By 2030, roughly 19% of Americans are going to be 65 or older. In 2000, only 12.4% fell in this category.

If an individual is deemed to be vulnerable to undue influence, family members may ask that a guardian manage his or her affairs. One could also appoint a guardian as part of an estate plan. Legal counsel could explain the benefits of having a guardian or conservator manage an elderly person's affairs. An attorney may also help a family remove a guardian or conservator who is acting in a negligent manner.

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