|What if the will or trust was changed under suspicious circumstances?
Unfortunately this is an increasingly popular form of elder abuse. Unscrupulous parties will frequently convince an elderly or incompetent person to write an estate plan, or change their existing one, to make the unscrupulous person the beneficiary of the elderly personís estate. Sometimes the victim is convinced to sign a deed or transfer assets.
What is not commonly known (even among many estate planners) is that certain estate planning decisions are presumed fraudulent under California law. We are familiar with statutory presumptions and have challenged numerous estate plans on the basis of fraud, forgery, undue influence and impaired capacity.
The best strategy is almost always to challenge these arrangements while the victim is still alive. Upon an appropriate petition, the probate court is empowered to void asset transfers and cancel estate planning documents that were created improperly. We can also challenge estate plans after death, but such a challenge is frequently made more difficult because evidence has been lost, destroyed or may not exist.
If you suspect that someone has changed an estate plan under suspicious circumstances, contact us as quickly as possible. We have successfully challenged numerous estate plans and restored the estate to the victimís original intent.