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Attorneys - Mediators

Trust and Estate Litigation

A loved one has died. You have been disinherited. Now what?

The person making a will or trust is called the testator (will) or trustor (trust). The law gives great weight to how the testator intended his or her property to be distributed after death. But sometimes, another person substitutes his or her desires for those of the testator and causes improper changes to be made to the estate plan.

A court proceeding to challenge the improperly changed will or trust is called a trust or will contest. In this kind of proceeding, the challenger presents evidence that someone has used undue influence or coercion to produce changes to the estate plan that do not truly reflect the intent of the testator. 

In some cases, a caregiver (who is not a relative) convinces an elderly or sick person to change his or her will or trust so that beneficiaries are substituted or omitted. The law presumes that a gift to such a caregiver was procured through undue influence, coercion or duress. The caregiver can be disqualified from being a beneficiary, and the court will reinstate the prior will or trust. 

In other cases, a successor trustee may have replaced the elder as trustee of the trust. While the elder is still alive, the successor trustee has a strict duty to account to the elder/beneficiary. Or, the elder may have signed a power of attorney giving another person (the agent) broad power to control the elder's assets. If you suspect that a successor trustee or agent is acting wrongfully, you should seek legal advice.

If you have questions or concerns about a loved one's estate plan - either before or after that person's death - call The Law Office of Jane E. Bednar for a consultation at (831) 375-6381, email us at [email protected] or go to "Contact Us" on this website.


©2021, Jane E. Bednar

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