Few things in life may be more difficult than watching a parent grow old. You may have to assume the role of caretaker. Encouraging your aging loved one to draft a comprehensive estate plan is often an effective strategy for helping your mother or father cope with the end of life.

For an estate plan to accurately reflect your parent’s wishes, it must be free from undue influence, which occurs when someone exerts his or her will over your loved one. This may happen in a variety of ways, but isolation is often an early indicator that something is wrong. If your mother or father no longer regularly interacts with you or other family members, someone else may have his or her ear.

Dishonest caregivers

 An unscrupulous caregiver may attempt to gain your loved one’s trust by stepping into your shoes. If someone else regularly cares for your parent, you should watch for signs of isolation. If your parent seems distant, you may need to inquire whether someone is exercising undue influence over his or her actions.

Changes to planning documents

 As your elderly parent enters the final stages of life, he or she may draft a will, set up a trust or otherwise make arrangements for distributing assets. As you may know, planning documents often name beneficiaries. If your loved one makes changes to any part of an estate plan, you may need to investigate whether someone is unfairly encouraging or benefitting from those changes.

Important questions

 As your parent ages, you may be able to combat the effects of isolation by staying engaged. Asking key questions about your loved one’s care and end-of-life objectives gives you valuable insight into your parent’s state of mind. It may also help you document undue influence if you have to contest a will or dispute another part of your aging loved one’s estate plan.

While it can be a difficult process to discuss, estate planning is a valuable tool for elderly individuals. If you suspect someone’s undue influence is causing your loved one’s isolation, though, you may need to work diligently to protect his or her financial, legal and other interests.