Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

Can I sue my step-father for forcing my terminally ill 90 yr. old mother, who has severe emphysema and a heart condition, to take something out of her trust in an amendment that she has had in her trust for me for 25 years, so that he can take it away from me?

When his first wife was dying of lung cancer, he demanded that she take her children out of her will and give everything to him. She was too sick to fight him. His children are still bitter after 30 years.

Can I sue him? My mother does not want to visit her lawyer again to have another amendment created - she is too ill and doesn't have the strength to do it. I think what he is doing is a crime. Am I correct?

I wasn't sure if this would come under the category of Elder Law or Trusts since it seems criminal. Thank you.

Asked on 8/29/09, 12:03 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Larry L. Doan Law Office of Larry L. Doan

Yes, you are entitled to bring an action in court if you believe that he influenced your mother to amend her trust under duress, coercion, or undue influence. However, most of the time this type of conduct does not rise to the level of a criminal matter, unless you can prove he went beyond and performed something much more serious against her, e.g., pointed a gun at her head, or something akin to blackmail or extortion, etc. Similarly, civil courts deal with cases of rescission of contracts all the time when one party claims they signed it under duress or undue influence.

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Answered on 8/29/09, 3:04 pm

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