How California law protects older adults from financial abuse

Older adults are often dependent on other people for certain needs. They may live with family members or even rely on a child or spouse to manage their daily needs, like administering medication.

Some people will use that kind of power for their own selfish reasons. They might try to pressure or manipulate an older adult into changing their estate plan for personal benefit. Caregivers can exert undue influence on older adults that would undermine their intended legacy after they die.

Thankfully, California law places certain limitations on estate changes to help protect older adults from this kind of abuse.

Estate planning changes that benefit caregivers may be invalid

State lawmakers have enacted limitations on the transfers and agreements that older adults can execute to protect them from financial abuse. Specifically, the law limits estate planning changes or donative transfers that would directly benefit the person who created the documents, a caregiver for the adult giving away property or making plans for their legacy or an immediate member of such people’s families.

A family member who will inherit from an estate can serve as a caregiver, but changes that increase their share of the estate made while they serve that caregiver role would not hold up to scrutiny in probate court. Family members who believe that a caregiver abused their position for financial gain can take action in the California courts to uphold the true intended legacy of their loved one.

The courts can rule that a previous version of the documents be used or apply intestate succession laws to divide the assets in the estate among the closest family members. Identifying warning signs that undue influence may have changed an estate plan can help you protect your inheritance or a loved one’s legacy.