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How does California protect older adults from financial abuse?

On Behalf of | Jul 30, 2021 | Elder Abuse |

Aging adults often require support to continue living independently. Some of them may be able to rely on family members or friends for the care and help that they need, while others may need to even the senior living communities or even nursing homes.

Older adults often become dependent on their caregivers and would not be able to live safely without their assistance. Most people who assume a caregiver role do so with appropriate motivations. However, there are some people who take on the position of caregiver in the hopes of using that service for personal benefit.

Caregivers are in a position to manipulate or threaten older adults into financial decisions they may not have otherwise made. Financial elder abuse affects not just those in the care of unscrupulous individuals but also their families and loved ones.

How might caregivers abuse their positions?

A caregiver might try withholding care or socialization from those who don’t do what they want. A caregiver is in a position to turn away someone’s family members who come for a visit or to deny someone food or pain control medication.

Even those who would never consider denying an older adult the support and care they need might still manipulate them. A decline in mental acuity is common as people age, and older adults may be more susceptible to emotional manipulation. Caregivers might create an exaggerated sob story about their personal circumstances so that their charge decides the best decision would be to alleviate their financial suffering with an inheritance.

How does California protect older adults from financial abuse?

State law and state probate courts won’t abide by caregiver estate manipulation. For several decades, there has been a law in California that explicitly prohibits changes to a last will or estate plan late in someone’s life that will directly benefit their caregivers.

There have been circumstances in the past where even long-term friends who served as caregivers have had the courts strip them of their inheritances because of the last-minute changes to the estate plan. If someone has always intended to leave the majority of their assets to one individual, that person serving his caregiver will not impact their inheritance rights.

However, if the inheritance only comes after someone assumes the caregiving role and those changes affect family members or other loved ones, the California probate courts are unlikely to uphold the final version of someone’s estate plan. Understanding how California law addresses the financial abuse of elders can help you take the appropriate actions to protect your loved one’s legacy after their death.