It happens more than you might imagine.

An elderly parent or relative passes away and when their will is revealed to family members most or all of the money and possessions are left to a caregiver, a handyman or some other non-relative who only had minimal contact with the deceased.

One New Jersey lawmaker is pressing ahead with a plan to make sure families are afforded stronger legal protections to shield the estates of the elderly from scammers and unworthy beneficiaries.

State Sen. Bob Singer, R-Ocean, is sponsoring legislation, S3341, that requires people who are not relatives of a senior to prove that no undue influence existed if that individual is named a beneficiary in a will.

He said he decided to sponsor the bill after talking with different County surrogates across the Garden State.

gorodenkoff GettyImages
gorodenkoff GettyImages

It's a growing problem

“They’re seeing that caregivers, handy-people are writing themselves into wills, having undue influence with some of these seniors in their later ages,” he said.

Singer said family members may not have a lot of contact with a senior for a while, and then after the person passes away “the family suddenly finds out that a caregiver or someone who did some work around the house is either getting a major or a large portion of the will.”

He said the legislation is designed to make sure scammers don’t take advantage of an elderly individual who may not fully understand exactly what’s happening.

Protecting their wishes

“It’s really a protection for what that person really wanted to do with their will when they pass away,” he said, “and a protection for the family, that they’re not being taken, and a protection for a family.”

“If that person is written into a will the family has a right to say how did this happen, and they have to prove it was undue influence.”

The measure has been referred to the State Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee for consideration.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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