The intertwining relationships in California families can be complex. If your elder family members have cognitive disorders, legal matters may become more complicated, especially in the area of estate distribution. At Cohen Law Office, P.C., we often represent clients who believe their relative made changes to their last will and testament as a result of undue influence.

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, the law presumes adults have adequate mental capacity when creating a will. The rise in trust contestations, is in part, due to the increase in mental health issues in the elderly. Recent clarification in the law states that undue influence relates to financial elder abuse.

Mental health professionals who meet specific requirements may testify as expert witnesses in court. The judge has the final say regarding who may testify as a qualified healthcare witness. The mental health expert may agree with your claim that a relative operated in a diminished mental state at the time of the last modifications to their estate planning documents. Their most recent changes may not stand, making the will or trust invalid.

Circumstances that indicate your relative’s state of mind may include a disorder, such as Alzheimer’s, that cause hallucinations or delusions. You may also attain documentation that supports that their current actions depart from routine behavior before their health changed. The judge may rule in your favor in a variety of situations. If your elder relative does not appear to understand the consequences of their action or if they do not remember your relationship to them are two such examples.

If you have an elder relative who recently changed to their estate plan and you suspect undue influences, an experienced attorney may be able to help. Visit our webpage for more information n this topic.