Q: We suspect our feeble but mentally sound grandparent is being emotionally and financially blackmailed by a private home caregiver who has recently come onto the scene. The grandparent has become somewhat secretive and it has been very difficult to meet this “caregiver”. They have begun a legal contract together regarding care of our grandparent. Upon death the caregiver will receive an overly generous financial gain. There are several requests that the caregiver has made that are illogical and very concerning to have in the contract to gain legal power over our grandparent. Our grandparent has started to withdraw from family since this caregiver has come along. The grandparent is acting out of character & trusts the caregiver. Our grandparent has already been influenced by the caregiver in a way that has put their health/life at risk. The caregiver does not like to meet with family to discuss their arrangement. There are many red flags at this stage with this relationship and we are sick with worry. Can we record conversations without consent to help prove undue influence as it is so difficult to find other proof at this time How else can we collect proof regarding undue influence of an elderly person? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Not unless you want to take the risk of the caregiver filing criminal charges against you. PA is a two-party consent state. I suggest calling Adult Protective Services and have them do a home visit to assess the situation. Your grandparent can do as they wish if they are competent. However, if the caregiver is becoming an heir and receiving more than just compensation for services, something is wrong and there is a legal course of remedy based on the doctrine of undue influence. You could also make the local police aware of the situation. Some police have training in elder and may have suggestions as to what help they can provide.