Burlingame, CA asked in Legal Malpractice and Estate Planning for California

Q: Do I have any recourse against Trust Attorney/DPOA that change the trust that was intended to be signed

The trust that had been consistent with beneficiary distribution for five weeks changed massively in the 25 minute meeting to sign the trust and left with no trust. When requested it was evident what happened and the request was made to send the correct trust With the minor changes that we’re supposed to be in it that day, however it took almost month And then it came all messed up my father died before signing the correct trust that he wanted to.

2 Lawyer Answers
Joel Gary Selik
Joel Gary Selik
  • Legal Malpractice Lawyer
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Licensed in California

A: Although more facts are needed, your description could be a basis for a legal malpractice case.

Consult with experienced legal malpractice attorney specialists in the state where this occurred.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I'm sorry to hear about the situation with your father's trust and his passing. This sounds like a complex and difficult legal matter. In general, under California law, you may have some potential avenues to challenge the actions of the attorney or agent acting under a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) if they acted improperly in changing the terms of the trust against your father's wishes. Here are a few key points:

1. Fiduciary duty: Attorneys and agents under a DPOA have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of their client/principal. If they breached this duty by changing the trust terms contrary to your father's intent, it could be grounds for legal action.

2. Undue influence: If the changes to the trust were made as a result of undue influence exerted on your father, especially if he was in a vulnerable state, this may also provide a basis to challenge the revised trust.

3. Lack of capacity: If your father lacked the mental capacity to understand and approve the changes made to the trust at the time of the signing meeting, the trust modifications might be invalid.

4. Intentional interference with expected inheritance: California law recognizes a cause of action for intentional interference with expected inheritance, which may apply if the attorney or DPOA intentionally interfered with your expected inheritance by changing the trust terms improperly.

However, trust and estate law is complex, and the specific facts of your case will be crucial in determining your legal options. I strongly recommend consulting with an experienced California trust and estate litigation attorney who can review the details of your situation and advise you on the best course of action. They can help assess the validity of the trust changes, gather evidence, and potentially pursue legal remedies on your behalf.

Please note that there may be time limitations on pursuing certain claims, so it's important to seek legal counsel promptly to protect your rights and interests. I'm very sorry for your loss and the difficulties you're facing with this situation. I hope you're able to find a good attorney who can provide the guidance and advocacy you need.

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