My three siblings and I live on the east coast and do not trust the sibling living near our elderly father. Should we insist that a neutral lawyer with no personal ties update my father's living trust? We are concerned that our father is being taken advantage of, since he is 92 years old and will go along with anything to avoid conflict. The lawyer is discussing details of the trust with the close sibling (her friend) but refuses to discuss any details with the rest of the family living back east. Should we be concerned and if so, what recourse do we have?
Just because the attorney is your sister's friend does not mean that he will do anything unethical. Most attorneys will take great care to be sure that the client (your father) is acting independently and that documents reflect his true intentions.
You have no recourse until your father first signs the document, passes, and the document becomes operative. If you think that you can prove undue influence or lack of competency when the documents were signed hire an attorney and object to them in court.
You have no right to "insist" on anything with respect to your father's trust or the disposition of his assets upon his death -- that choice is solely his. Does your sister's lawyer friend have a conflict of interest such that the amended and restated trust would be invalidated, or any gift to your sister treated as if she predeceased your father? No. The lawyer has no obligation to discuss anything with you and, in fact, without the permission of your father who is his client, he cannot. What recourse do you have? Get on a plane and visit your dad. Perhaps then you might have the comfort you seek. If not, your options might become clearer to you after consultation with an attorney.
Given your facts, the lack of transparency is certainly a red flag. Does you dad have capacity? You mention he may be susceptible to influence. Never a good thing.
What does your dad say when you talk to him? Does he understand what is going on?
Definitely keep a close on this.
Your only real option if your dad doesnt have capacity or seems to be being taken advantage of by your sister is a conservatorship.
If it is your father's trust, than he decides who is lawyer will be, not his family members. Although yiou can certainly discuss your concerns with your dad. If you have concerns about your father being taken advatage of or just to have your questions answered, you should contact an attorney in your state.