Ethan R. Okura
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

In previous columns, I have addressed the subject of financial abuse of the elderly. This usually involves outright stealing or fraud. However, there is another form of financial abuse that is subtler, harder to identify and often doesn’t show up until after the beloved family member has passed on. This type of problem is called “undue influence.”

What is “Undue Influence?”

Black’s Law Dictionary defines “undue influence” in these words: “In regard to the making of a will and other such matters, undue influence is persuasion carried to the point of overpowering the will, or such a control over the person in question as prevents him from acting intelligently, understanding, and voluntarily, and in effect destroys his, and constrains him to do what he would not have done if such control had not been exercised.”

California Probate Code Section 86 and California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15610.70 define undue influence as “excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person’s free will and results in inequity.”

What that means in plain English is that sometimes an unscrupulous person will manipulate another person who is dependent on them or otherwise vulnerable in such a way that the unscrupulous person will benefit or profit from the fact that the other person is dependent or vulnerable. In other words, it’s when someone puts inappropriate pressure on someone else to get him or her to do something that they wouldn’t do otherwise.

To read the rest of 8/17’s article, visit Ethan’s website here or subscribe to The Herald!

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Ethan R. Okura received his doctor of jurisprudence degree from Columbia University in 2002. He specializes in estate planning to protect assets from nursing home costs, probate, estate taxes and creditors.

This column is for general information only. The facts of your case may change the advice given. Do not rely on the information in this column without consulting an estate planning specialist.


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