Undue Influence Claims


Concerns around undue influence in trust creation and administration can threaten the validity of a trust and prevent the fulfillment of the interests of the trust. A trust undue influence attorney from our team at RMO can help preserve the creator’s intentions and safeguard your interests.

What are Undue Influence Claims?

Undue influence is considered excessive persuasion, in which the intent of the victim is replaced with the intent of the wrongdoer.

Undue influence typically occurs when a trustor or trustee is encouraged to act in a manner unaligned with their own free will—this often occurs when an individual takes advantage of a trustor or trustee’s mental incapacity. This influence is typically for the sake of a bad actor’s own personal gain and at the expense of the interests of the trust. 

Undue influence can invalidate a trust and require the experience of a skilled attorney to ensure a trust creator’s wishes are preserved. A trust undue influence attorney from RMO Lawyers can provide support in these cases to ensure that the interests of the trust are fulfilled and parties are protected against harmful influence.

What are Examples of Undue Influence?

The most common scenario we see is the abuser is often a caregiver- whether they are a child, spouse, or even hired in-home care nurse. The caregiver may psychologically manipulate or threaten an elderly individual to be given money or be left a specific property in the trust instrument. That undue influence could take the form of a threat to providing care –  including essentials like food, water, bathing, etc, the threat to stop visiting, to restrict them from seeing grandchildren, all in an effort to manipulate a benefit for the abuse, like money or the property.

Consider a scenario where a step-parent exerts undue influence over their spouse to favor them in the trust while excluding or providing significantly less for the spouse’s own children from a previous marriage. The step-parent may use emotional manipulation or coercion to persuade their spouse to amend the trust, allocating a larger portion of assets to themselves and minimal provisions for the spouse’s children. This undue influence might involve threats to end the marriage, withdraw emotional support, or impose conditions on the relationship unless the trust is modified to benefit them disproportionately.

Proving Undue Influence Claims

Establishing undue influence concerning a trust following the death of the settlor typically involves demonstrating that the settlor was subjected to manipulation or coercion in creating or amending the trust. Key elements in proving undue influence may include showing that:

  1. The settlor was vulnerable at the time of creating or amending the trust, such as due to advanced age, illness, isolation, or emotional distress.
  2. The wrongdoer had apparent authority or a position of trust over the settlor, enabling them to exert influence.
  3. The actions and tactics employed by the wrongdoer demonstrate undue influence, such as controlling essential aspects of the settlor’s life, employing affection, intimidation, or coercion, and initiating changes to the trust with haste or secrecy.
  4. The outcome of the trust reflects an inequitable result, such as economic consequences to the settlor, divergence from prior intentions or conduct, disparities in the value exchanged, or inappropriate changes to the estate plan considering the nature of the relationship.

What to Do if You Suspect Undue Influence Has Occurred?

Proving undue influence often requires thorough documentation, witness testimony, and expert analysis to establish the circumstances surrounding the creation or amendment of the trust and the influence exerted over the settlor.

In both California and Texas, beneficiaries who suspect undue influence regarding changes to distributions or their status as beneficiaries have certain rights and legal avenues to address their concerns. However, it’s important to note that the specific laws and procedures may vary between the two states. Generally, here is an overview of the rights and potential courses of action available.


California’s Probate Codes provide protections for beneficiaries against undue influence. Sections of the Probate Code, such as Sections 850 through 859, offer procedures for challenging transfers of property, including those made through undue influence.

Beneficiaries who believe they have been disinherited or received reduced distributions due to undue influence can contest the validity of a will or trust. California law allows interested parties, including beneficiaries, to challenge the validity of testamentary documents based on grounds such as lack of capacity or undue influence. Beneficiaries may file a trust litigation lawsuit against the executor, trustee, or other parties involved in the estate or trust administration, alleging undue influence. Trust litigation allows beneficiaries to seek remedies such as the invalidation of changes made under undue influence or the recovery of wrongfully distributed assets. 

In some cases, beneficiaries and other interested parties may choose to resolve disputes through mediation or negotiation outside of court. Mediation can offer a less adversarial and more efficient means of addressing concerns related to undue influence.


Texas has its own set of laws governing probate and trusts, which provide protections for beneficiaries against undue influence. Beneficiaries can seek recourse under relevant sections of the Texas Estates Code, including those governing will contests and trust disputes.

Beneficiaries may initiate trust litigation in Texas courts to challenge the validity of trust amendments or distributions made under undue influence. Trust litigation allows beneficiaries to seek remedies such as the removal of a trustee, the invalidation of trust provisions, or the recovery of wrongfully distributed assets.

Like California, beneficiaries in Texas may have the option to pursue alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or arbitration to resolve undue influence disputes outside of court.

In both California and Texas, beneficiaries who suspect undue influence should consult with an experienced trust litigation attorney like those at RMO. An attorney can provide guidance on the specific rights and legal options available, as well as represent the beneficiary’s interests in pursuing a resolution to the matter.

What if You Are Accused of Undue Influence?

If you are accused of undue influence, it’s crucial to understand your rights and legal options to defend against the allegations. Regardless of whether you’re accused of undue influence in California or Texas, it’s essential to take the allegations seriously and respond appropriately with the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney. Even if you believe that the claims are entirely unsubstantiated, you should reach out to an attorney who will help you navigate the court system and defend against claims of wrongdoing.

How Does Undue Influence Play a Role In Probate Litigation?

Undue influence is one of the most common reasons for contesting a will or trust. Undue influence frequently remains unnoticed during an elder’s lifetime. However, upon their passing, family members often have the chance to delve into the circumstances and uncover instances where their loved one was exploited.

Undue Influence and Conservatorships/Guardianships

Undue Influence is a common basis for seeking a conservatorship or guardianship to protect a loved one from such financial abuse. If, during the lifetime of your loved one, you suspect a sibling, step-parent, or anyone else is attempting to unduly influence them, establishing a conservatorship or guardianship may give you the authority needed to remedy the wrongdoing and protect your loved one. 

When Should I Contact An Attorney For Trust Undue Influence Claims?

You should consider contacting an attorney for trust undue influence claims as soon as you suspect that undue influence may have played a role or is currently playing a role in the creation or modification of a trust. Early involvement of an attorney can help protect your legal rights and provide guidance on how to proceed.

Undue influence claims are complex and require a skilled and experienced attorney. If you’re unsure whether you may benefit from the support of an attorney in your case or have any questions surrounding the case, schedule a free consultation with our team at RMO Lawyers.

Our Case Results

RMO has a proven track record of protecting people and defending legacies.

Summary Adjudication of Disinherited Beneficiary’s Trust Contest
Swiftly secured the dismissal of a trust contest of a disgruntled, disinherited trust beneficiary on a motion after strategically allowing the trust contest period to expire before serving a notice of proposed action to distribute trust assets to the trust’s remaining beneficiaries and nothing to the disinherited beneficiary.
Secured Family’s Business Legacy
Representing the successor family trustee, secured the generational family business for the decedent’s heirs by acquiring from a disgruntled beneficiary their interest in the family business on extremely favorable terms that will allow the family to continue operating the family business for future generations to come.
Defense of Financial Elder Abuse Claim Against Surviving Spouse Trustee
Successfully defended a surviving spouse trustee against financial elder abuse and other claims made by family members who said she had fraudulently transferred assets to herself from her late husband’s trust and estate.
Prevented Trustee Removal for Badly-Lawyered Trust Accounting
Staved off suspension, removal and surcharge for a trustee who had failed to properly or timely provide court-ordered trust accountings to trust beneficiaries and was staring down an imminent deadline, as well as suspension, removal and surcharge.
Trustee Removal for Fraud
Neutralized and secured removal of a hostile co-trustee who was attempting to bilk our client’s trust of millions of dollars through a series of fabricated claims.
Thieving Trustee Removed and Surcharged
Secured removal of a thieving co-trustee daughter whose malfeasance left her own mother destitute and unable to pay her bills, including recovery of the stolen assets, attorney fees and costs.
Trust Beneficiary Dispute Squashed & Partition Avoided
Swooped in on behalf of an institutional trustee after years of protracted litigation to secure a decision from the Los Angeles probate court to end a years-long dispute between feuding siblings over the distribution of their parents’ estate, avoiding distribution of assets in-kind, which would have only resulted in partition.
Sub-Trust Allocations Defended
Client’s mother survived step-dad and succeeded him as trustee of their family trust. After mom passed, step-dad’s children alleged she had improperly allocated trust assets to favor her survivor’s trust, which went to our client, over the marital trust, which went to step-dad’s children. Using historic appraisals and valuations, demonstrated the disputed allocation was reasonable, resolving the dispute.
Inept Trustee Removed & Client Appointed Successor Trustee to Save Estate
Non-responsive and ineffective trustee who had done little to nothing to administer the trust or protect trust assets from waste following decedent’s passing was removed and our client appointed as successor trustee by the probate court, avoiding further damage.
Racist Trustee Removed and Surcharged
Removed and obtained surcharge of a non-beneficiary family trustee who hurled racial epthets at our client, refused to account, and tried to sell the house intended for our sole trust beneficiary client out of spite, securing the home for our client and her family.
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Who Can Hire a Trust Litigation Attorney for an Undue Influence?

Undue influence can affect several interested parties involved in a trust. RMO trust litigation attorneys can support all the following clients in an undue influence case.


Beneficiaries and/or Heirs are directly impacted by undue influence, as the claim threatens their rightful inheritance. Our attorneys advocate for beneficiaries in these cases to ensure they receive their rightful inheritance as initially outlined by the trust.


In certain situations, trustees may have to defend themselves against claims of undue influence or navigate concerns surrounding trust management. Depending on the circumstances, our attorneys can help trustees navigate the situation to ensure they uphold their fiduciary duty and achieve the best possible outcome.


Successor trustees may find evidence in their position that the original trustee was unduly influenced when administering the trust. In these cases, our team of trust litigation attorneys can investigate the matter and pursue legal action if necessary.


A trustor or settlor with concerns about someone’s influence can seek out an attorney to help take measures to safeguard their interests, like establishing a conservatorship or guardianship, transferring power of attorney, or replacing a trustee. Our attorneys at RMO can support trustors and settlors in taking the best possible path.


Creditors have an interest in recovering any potential debts from the decedent as part of the assets of a trust. A case of undue influence on a trustor can result in creditors losing their rightful distribution from a trust. RMO Lawyers represent creditors to support them in recovering their debts.


A trust impacted by undue influence can affect several different parties, and a lawyer can support anyone who believes it could threaten the validity of the trust and its interests. At RMO, we support parties like surviving children, close relatives, conservators or guardians, and more.


Be advised that the RMO Client Relations Team will reach out prior to your scheduled time, as our policy requires that we gather additional information concerning the parties to your case before we can confirm your consultation. In the event that we are unable to reach you, regrettably, we will need to cancel your requested consultation.

Communication Disclaimer

Please note that communications by you to RMO LLP or any of its lawyers through this website do not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm. Do not send any privileged or confidential information to the firm through this website or otherwise until instructed in writing from us to do so. 

FAQs About Trust Undue Influence Claims

Signs of undue influence can manifest in various ways, such as sudden and significant changes in the victim’s financial arrangements or estate plans, particularly if they disproportionately benefit the influencer. The victim may also become isolated from friends and family, making them more vulnerable to manipulation. Coercive tactics, including threats or emotional manipulation, may be employed to pressure the victim into complying with the influencer’s wishes. After the victim’s death, family members may notice discrepancies in the estate plan or financial transactions that raise suspicions of undue influence. If you observe any of these signs, it’s essential to seek advice from an RMO attorney to assess your claims.

If undue influence is proven, the court may invalidate all or part of the trust documents influenced by the undue influence. This could result in reinstatement of prior documents, redistribution of assets according to the deceased’s true intentions, removal of executors or trustees involved in the undue influence, and other remedies to ensure a fair distribution of the estate. Schedule your consultation with an RMO attorney to consider your undue influence claim.


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