Undue influence is often an aspect of trust and estate litigation. Undue influence is excessive persuasion that causes a person to act by overcoming that person’s free will. As one might expect, undue influence takes many forms, involves multiple factors, and can be quite subtle. Was someone isolated from other people, so that he or she would favor a particular individual in his or her estate planning? Has someone benefited after pressuring a person to make a gift in his or her will or trust? Did someone participate in getting an estate planning document drafted that then benefits them?
As another example, “Dorothy” is bed-ridden and her family lives in another state. She does not see or hear from them except with a brief phone call on her birthday and Christmas. Dorothy hires a caregiver named “Joan,” who convinces her that her family does not care about her and that she should leave her entire estate to Joan. Worried that Joan will not properly take care of her if she disagrees, Dorothy leaves everything she owns to her caregiver.
In California, with certain exceptions, the Probate Code creates a presumption of undue influence when a caregiver receives an asset from a dependent individual. In these kind of matters, it is often the case that the caregiver must prove that there was no fraud or undue influence.
Challenging a will, trust, or other “gift” based on undue influence, or defending against such a claim, can be complicated. For assistance, call the experienced Riverside trust and estate litigation attorneys at Lester, Cantrell & Kraus, LLP.
Arrange a Consultation
Our Lester, Cantrell & Kraus, LLP attorneys are available to help with estate planning in Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, and Orange County. To arrange a confidential consultation with a skilled estate planning attorney in Riverside, call 951-300-2690 or contact us online. We also meet clients by appointment in Newport Beach.