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Help! What Can I Do If My Parent Is Being Manipulated To Give Away His Assets or Changing His Estate Plan in Santa Clara County?

These cases are the most difficult in California.  Even if you know your parent is being manipulated through undue influence, taking action can be difficult and complicated.  These cases are difficult because your only viable option during your parent’s lifetime is to file a petition action.  If you take this course of action, you have to win the conservatorship petition you may end up in a worse situation than when you started even though you were only trying to protect your parent.  In Santa Clara County and the surrounding counties, the property values are high and elders can be targets to unscrupulous individuals.  

There is no easy solutions for a child to take control of their parent’s assets.  Generally by the time the children know of the manipulation and want to take action, the bad influencer has already had the estate plan changed.  Generally, the trust will provide a way for the successor trustee to step in and take control when the parent is incapacitated.  However, the bad person may have had your parent change his estate plan already to give the bad person the authority over the trust and its assets when your parent is incapacitated.  Once that occurs, it is like the fox guarding the hen house.  

An interested party can file to have a conservatorship placed over their parent.  This can be risky.  When filing a conservatorship petition, you are alleging your parent either does not have capacity to make their own decisions and/or they are subject to undue influence.   Your parent probably will not like that you are alleging they cannot make your own decisions or that they are being controlled by someone.  Your parent may not like that you are “airing their dirty laundry” in a public proceeding.  

To add insult to injury, the bad influencer will likely try to convince your parent that you are trying to take away their money for yourself.  They will prey on your parent’s worse fears and try to convince your parent you are not to be trusted.  If your parent believes these lies, they may disinherit you from their estate plan as retribution if the court does not place a conservatorship over your parent.

The other option is to wait until your parent passes away and then file a trust and will contest.  Your parent is not placed in the middle of the litigation.  It will not protect your parent during their lifetime but sometimes this is the best option.  Discussing your options with an experienced in Santa Clara County trust litigator can be helpful so you can make an informed decision how to proceed in your situation.

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