Can an elderly parent legally exclude one of her adult children from an inheritance?

My mom, a seventy-nine year old widow has established a trust for her estate that is worth about 3 million dollars. She has excluded me from the trust and has listed just my two sisters in it. My two sisters live in Nevada and are rarely here to help her with day-to-day issues. They just rushed in three years ago when her third husband past away and the three of them had this trust established that excludes me. What legal recourse do I have to a third of this estate upon her death?

Asked on September 4, 2017 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You don't have any recourse unless you can show (by proof or evidence):
1) Your mother was mentally incompetent when she created the trust;
2) The trust was the product of fraud (e.g. your sisters showed her papers that would have included you, then had her sign different papers);
3) Your sisters used illegal threats of some sort (e.g. of violence; of confining her to her home) to get her to create the trust. 
(There is another ground which would not apply here, if your sisters are out of state and rarely around: undue influence. That generally applies if it can be shown that the day to day caregiver used his/her position of influence and control to "overpower" the person's will.)
Unless you can show one of the above fundamental defects to the voluntariness of the trust or your mother's mental capacity to create it--which will likely not be easy--your mother has the right to disinherit or otherwise exclude you; there is no law saying that all children must inherit, and parents may freely disinherit or exclude some or all.


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