We have a family member who has hired an attorney in the state of California. The family member is the beneficiary of a special needs trust (an SNT). The family member wishes to break the trust, and access the cash without restrictions.
The issue is that the attorney is causing the trust significant legal costs, yet the trust is also this family member's only form of support. The family member has no job, no apparent desire to work, and no other source of reliable support.
The family member is very clearly both "substantially unable to manage his or her own financial resources" and subject to "undue influence". However, there is no formal diagnosis of a disability, and the family member will not permit a diagnosis to be made. For the legal process to even get to a ruling on the merits of the capacity claims will substantially diminish the value in the trust, exhausting it to the point where it can't support the family member.
The family is concerned that the attorney is seeking profit over the best interests of his/her client. And that this action will diminish the trust regardless of outcome, destroying the entire purpose for the trust.
Where might that ethical line exist for an attorney in representing a client with signs of mental illness intent on damaging their own interest. Is there a way for the family to step in?