If you suspect that a loved one’s trust was created or signed because someone else threatened or abused him or her, what you suspect is that the terms of that trust were procured under duress. Duress is a form of undue influence; it essentially means bullying a testator into the desired terms. Proving duress can be challenging for the reasons below.
Obviously, the testator can no longer speak for him or herself. So, anyone calling the legitimacy of a trust into question will find gathering evidence to support the claim extremely difficult.
Evidence Needed to Prove Duress
You will find that all of the available evidence is circumstantial in nature. Circumstantial evidence can be used in court, but it will need to be substantial. This evidence is readily backed up by testimony from other family members, friends, and doctors. For instance, medical records can generally only demonstrate that an individual was in a weakened or confused state and therefore more vulnerable to duress. You will need to demonstrate that someone had means and opportunity to exercise duress on the testator.
Medical records and any physical communications from the testator mentioning the individual or individuals who may have been pressuring them should be collected and shown to legal counsel while you are deciding whether or not you will pursue California trust litigation.
Are you concerned your loved one was bullied into signing a trust he or she didn’t agree with? Talk with a Riverside probate attorney as soon as possible. The Grossman Law Firm offers San Diego trust litigation, will contests, and probate services. Call for a free, 30-minute consultation with one of our lawyers today at 888-443-6590. To reach us online, fill out our quick contact form.
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