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Are Medical Records the "Secret Sauce" of Undue Influence Probate Cases in CA?

Medical Records Undue Influence

Probate litigators in California often pursue will contests and undue influences cases armed with strong medical evidence. What do the California medical records say about the person who signed the will, the revocable trust or the revocable trust amendment that changed his or her California estate plan? What do the medical records say about the testator, trustor or settlor's vulnerability, incapacity, illness, injury, age, impaired cognitive function, emotional distress, isolation or dependency?

We have secured and reviewed medical records from independent physicians as well as many medical centers such as Veteran Affairs Medical Center, VA Northern California Health System, Kaiser Foundation Hospital - Sacramento, Kaiser Foundation Hospital - South Sacramento, Kaiser Foundation Hospital - Roseville, Kaiser Foundation Hospital - Vacaville, Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital, Methodist Hospital of Sacramento, Mercy General Hospital - Sacramento, Mercy San Juan Hospital, Sutter General Hospital, Sutter Davis Hospital, Woodland Memorial Hospital, Lodi Memorial Hospital, St. Joseph's Medical Center of Stockton, University of California Davis Medical Center, Marshall Medical Center, and Stanford Hospital - Palo Alto. Whether the records that we are seeking concern a dispute over an invalid trust or other issues with regard to a California inheritance, we are experienced in securing the medical records that may be the "secret sauce" and undue influence claim in trust, probate or estate litigation.

It is important that your attorneys in a probate litigation law firm understand the medical records that are an important part of an estate lawsuit over a will or trust.

Medical records often include but are not limited to: doctor or physician reports; patient history and physical; physician's progress notes; physician's order sheets, nursing care plan; laboratory reports; consultations; emergency department records; nurses notes; hospital admission records and reports; and nurses assistants notes. These records must be carefully reviewed for possible evidence that assist in substantiating the patient's vulnerability marked by "incapacity, illness, disability, injury, age, impaired cognitive function, emotional distress, isolation or dependency."

Medical records may also help to identify the actions of the person who committed undue influence and whether "the influence knew or should have known of the alleged victim's vulnerability." More than once we have seen medical records where the undue influencer's conversation with medical staff is well documented - often exhibiting an extraordinary effort to have the medical staff verify that the victim has capacity to make a will or trust. Undue influencers often are oblivious that capacity is just one but not exclusive determinant of undue influence. A person may have capacity but still be vulnerable to manipulation by the unscrupulous.

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