Skip to main content

Is it a conflict of interest for a daughter to use her good lawyer friend to update her elderly father's living trust?

Los Angeles, CA |

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?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 5


Not sure there is a conflict but, there may be undue influence. Watch this thing closely...


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.

I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for general information only. They are not legal advice or counsel. Answers must not be relied upon. Legal advice and counsel must be based on the interplay between specific exact facts and the law. This forum does not allow for the discussion of that interplay. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if that interplay were explored during an attorney-client relationship. I provide legal advice and counsel during the course of an attorney-client relationship only. The exchange of information through this forum does not establish such a relationship. That relationship is established only by personal and direct consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement signed by each of us. The communications on this website are not privileged or confidential and I assume no duty to anyone by my participation on Avvo or because I have answered or commented on a question. All legal proceedings involve deadlines and time limiting statutes. So that legal rights are not lost for failure to timely take appropriate action and because I do not provide legal advice or counsel in answer to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an attorney for advice and counsel. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference


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.


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.

The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. While I am licensed to practice in New York and California, I do not actively practice in New York. Regardless, nothing said should be deemed an opinion of law of any state. All readers need to do their own research or pay an attorney for a legal opinion if one is necessary or desired.


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.