top of page




When elderly or ill individuals rely on a caretaker for support, they may become the victims of undue influence. A caretaker may threaten or use his or her influence over the elderly person to influence financial decisions. This is elder financial abuse, and may result in a defective will as well as fraudulent transfers of assets during the individual’s life. However, family members can challenge wills, as well as any fraudulent transfers or gifts.

Our San Francisco probate litigation lawyers have over 30 years of experience advising and representing families whose loved ones were the victims of undue influence. We have successfully resolved many probate disputes, including those involving fraudulent transfers and gifts. Attorney Charles Triay is a certified specialist in probate litigation, and uses his expertise to get justice for individuals and families in estate law matters.


A fraudulent transfer may be any gift or bequest of money or assets that results from undue influence. In these cases, a caregiver often coerces an elderly individual into making legal or financial decisions in favor of him or her. Some common examples of fraudulent transfers of estate property include:

  • A caregiver threatens an elderly charge, explicitly or implicitly, into leaving the caregiver all or a portion of the estate.

  • An elderly individual is manipulated into giving financial gifts to a caretaker or another person close to him or her. This is commonly a problem when the elderly person lacks the capacity to make decisions. However, a person may exert undue influence over any elderly or ill individual using threats like abandonment and abuse.

  • A caretaker forges signatures or checks to steal money from an elderly charge. Alternatively, an elderly person may be tricked into signing something he or she does not understand. This can result in a transfer of money or property that he or she does not intend.

Family members can prevent the fraudulent transfer of estate assets by staying in contact with elderly loved ones. If possible, monitor your relative’s finances as well, or hire an accountant to do so. Any inconsistencies or large transfers of funds may be evidence of elder financial abuse. Most importantly, encourage your loved one to communicate his or her concerns to you to prevent others from taking advantage of him or her.


A family is often unaware of fraudulent transfers or changes to a will until after their relative has passed away. Gifts and/or changes in a person’s will are not incontestable proof of undue influence. However, these are often the first warning signs. If you suspect a fraudulent transfer of estate assets, you may challenge the will in probate court. You may be able to prove lack of capacity or that someone exerted undue influence over your relative during estate planning. As a result, the courts may declare the will defective and unlawful.

Gifts made prior to your loved one’s death may be more difficult to reclaim, especially if the recipient has already spent the money or sold the property. However, you do have legal options. A probate litigation attorney can help you carry out your loved one’s true intentions and can give you advice in elder financial abuse cases.


If you are the beneficiary of an estate and believe that assets have been fraudulently transferred to someone else, call a probate litigator. In cases involving elder financial abuse, a probate litigation attorney can manage the complex legal aspects of your case and help you honor your loved one’s true wishes.

Attorney Charles Triay is a probate litigation specialist. He has more than 30 years of experience contesting wills and handling fraudulent transfer cases. We offer clients the option to pay probate litigation attorney fees on a contingency or hourly basis. Contact our law firm today to discuss your undue influence case.

woman holding iPad and reading with man next to her


  • Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s last will and testament or according to intestate law. Certain trusts only go into effect upon the death of the testator, and may therefore be part of a probate administration. California probate courts oversee probate administration and probate litigation.

  • Probate litigation is the term for a lawsuit when a party, such as an heir, beneficiary, creditor, third party or omitted spouse contests a will. Probate litigation also includes charges against fiduciaries of trusts or estates, or creditors’ claims against an estate.

  • There are several different reasons for contesting a will. For example, claims of undue influence and lack of capacity are common causes for probate litigation. Some individuals may argue that the will is defective, or that the estate trustee is breaching a fiduciary duty. If you are an omitted spouse or if your spouse leaves you less than required by California law, you may have a claim against the estate as part of your spousal rights.

  • A fiduciary duty is the obligation to act honestly, fairly and in good faith when handling the deceased person’s estate. There are multiple fiduciary duties that executors, administrators and trustees are legally required to follow, including keeping proper accountings of all investments, as well as money going in and out of the trust or estate. Violation of this duty or poor performance in administrating the estate may result in legal action by the estate’s beneficiaries.

  • Just as in all types of civil litigation, the law allows you to represent yourself in a probate proceeding. However, we strongly advise having a seasoned probate litigation lawyer handle your case to ensure that California probate law upholds your best interests.​

  • Even in death, a person is liable for their debts. For example, creditors may bring claims against a person’s estate after their death to receive payment.

  • A codicil is a document that makes small changes to the terms of a last will and testament. An individual may use codicils when they want to amend their last wishes without having to create an entirely new will. A codicil will only be legally valid and enforceable if executed in the same manner as a will. Codicils are particularly useful upon remarriage, additional children born, or new property acquired by an estate.​

  • If a person dies without a will, then California intestacy laws will dictate the division of their estates to the heirs at law. These laws will then distribute property and assets depending on the marital status, number of children and surviving relatives of the deceased individual.


About Triay Law Office

Probate litigation attorney Charles Triay has specialized in California probate litigation matters for over 30 years.

Probate Litigation Blog

We have a wide variety of information to share on all subjects regarding probate litigation.

Video Library

Watch our informational videos.


4 Orinda Way Suite 200-Dorinda, CA 94563


4 Orinda Way Suite 200-D

Orinda, CA 94563

bottom of page