Our Los Angeles Trust Litigation Attorney Explains
Undue influence is a common reason for lawsuits over trusts in California. In trust litigation, undue influence may refer to a situation where an individual takes advantage of a grantor, such as an older or disabled individual, for their own benefit. As a result, the person taking advantage may obtain a large portion of the estate through unlawful means.
Some older adults may need to rely on other people to look after their financial and basic life needs. Dementia or physical frailty can make older adults reliant on others, which puts them at higher risk of exploitation. Individuals looking after older adults may exploit their position of authority to exert unlawful influence over a trust or will.
What Are Examples of Undue Influence?
There are a number of scenarios where undue influence may occur. Possible examples of undue influence include:
- A person who isolates a grantor so he or she cannot have contact with family members. In this scenario, the individual may have an easier time manipulating the grantor.
- A person abuses his or her relationship with the grantor to exclude family members from the trust or will. For instance, a caretaker may convince the grantor to leave him or her a majority of an inheritance.
- A trustee illegally uses his or her authority to influence the trustor and terms of a trust.
What Are Possible Signs of Undue Influence?
There may be warning signs of undue influence. Possible warning signs include:
- Unexpected gifts. During a trust litigation case involving undue influence, courts may look for unexpected gifts or purchases. A grantor may leave money or property to individuals of no familial relation under suspicious circumstances.
- Unusual relationships. Courts may also look for unusual relationships. For instance, a caretaker may have spent an unusual amount of time with the decedent (deceased person). Another possible sign of undue influence may be a niece or nephew who visits a grantor much more than usual and under suspicious circumstances. It is important to remember that special relationships do not always mean undue influence is occurring.
- Isolation. Undue influence may be more likely to occur if a grantor or elderly person has no contact with family members. Caretakers or other individuals may have an easier time manipulating the grantor or elderly adult while he or she is isolated.
These are only a handful of possible examples where undue influence may be occurring. However, the warning signs listed above do not necessarily mean undue influence occurred. Contact a trust litigation attorney if you believe someone is manipulating your loved one for financial reasons.
Do I Need a Los Angeles Trust Litigation Attorney?
You should strongly consider hiring a California probate litigation attorney if you suspect undue influence affected the outcome of a will or trust. Depending on the circumstances, the court may negate changes to an estate plan if there is evidence that undue influence occurred.
There are generally evidentiary hurdles you must overcome to remove a change to a trust or will that resulted from undue influence. An experienced trust litigation attorney may be able to help you overcome these evidentiary hurdles.
Los Angeles trust litigation attorney Greg Aslanian can help you determine if your situation meets the legal standard for undue influence. You can schedule a free consultation with us by dialing (626) 345-7210 or by using the contact form on our site.