"What happened to Mom and Dad's house?" We're estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigators. We've heard this question asked of us time and time again. Why? Well, family house transfers are often ground zero for estate and trust fights. The facts change, but the parties, transfer techniques, and general family shock at learning of the living or estate transfers follow certain patterns.
So how do these house fights develop?
Your mom or your dad is a widow or widower. He or she lives alone or with an essentially dependent adult child. The adult child may be on a Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability program. Many times the adult child has an alcohol or substance abuse problem.
Your elderly parent is vulnerable for one or more reasons. Cognitive decline, mood swings, confusion and forgetfulness evidence the vulnerability. These impairments expose your parent to undue influence, and a dependent adult child with substance abuse issues is the perfect candidate to be an undue influencer. This makes sense. A parent's home provides shelter to the non-working sibling. The dependent child knows that when his parent passes away, that this free housing will be over - with the property most often split between the parent's surviving children. So what happens? Through one device or another, an undue influencer moves his parent to transfer the family home to himself either before a parent's death or after the death by a trust or estate transfer. Is this your situation? It is for a lot of people. In California the family home is often the storehouse of wealth. When this storehouse is taken as a result of undue influence, expected inheritances are destroyed and family harmony disrupted.
Now, not all transfers of family homes to one sibling to the exclusion of other siblings are the result of undue influence or elder financial abuse. But when they are, we are often engaged to challenge the wrongful transfer and protect beneficiary rights. This is our mission throughout California: from Sacramento and Los Angeles to Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Diego. If you suspect that the transfer occurred because of wrongdoing or undue influence and want to talk about possible remedies, call us at Hackard Law (916) 313-3030. We want to listen to your story.