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Elder Financial Abuse in California

Elder financial abuse can take different forms and can be committed by caregivers, family members, strangers, or any other people known to the elder. The financial abuse may have the same impact as physical abuse.

Elements the Plaintiff Must Establish

According to CACI 3100 in case the plaintiff claims that the defendant violated the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act by taking financial advantage of him, he must prove the following elements to establish this claim:

  • Defendant took, hid, appropriated, obtained, or retained the plaintiff’s property or assisted in taking, hiding, appropriating, obtaining or retaining the plaintiff’s property
  • Plaintiff was sixty five years of age or older at the time of the conduct
  • Defendant took, hid, appropriated, obtained or retained/assisted in taking, hiding, appropriating, obtaining or retaining the property for a wrongful use or with the intent to defraud or by undue influence
  • Plaintiff was harmed
  • Defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing harm to the plaintiff.

The plaintiff can establish the defendant’s illegal conduct by proving that he knew or should have reasonably known that his actions were likely to be harmful to the plaintiff. Defendant took, hid, appropriated, obtained or retained the property, in case the plaintiff was deprived of the property by an agreement, will, gift or trust, regardless of whether the property was held by the plaintiff or by his representative. Representative is an individual or an entity or, that is either:

  • A trustee
  • A conservator
  • Other representative of the estate of an elder
  • An attorney-in-fact of an elder who acts within the authority of the power of attorney.

Undue Influence

According to California Civil Code Section 1575 undue influence is misuse of person’s power and role to exploit the dependency, trust, or fear of another person for misleadingly gain control over that person’s decision-making and obtaining an unfair advantage over him. Undue influence isn’t itself considered a form of abuse, but it is a scheming conduct which is used to abuse an elderly person, particularly through sexual abuse or financial exploitation.

Examples of Elder’s Financial Abuse

Here are some common examples of elder’s financial abuse:

  • Taking personal property or money from the elder
  • Repeatedly borrowing money and not returning it
  • Denying medical care or services or to conserve funds
  • Using neglect of abuse to convince the elder to give up his assets.
  • Convincing to invest in worthless property or companies
  • Selling the elder’s goods without his consent permission.

Statute of Limitations

According to California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15657.7 for financial elder abuse claims, the statute of limitations is four years. The four-year statute of limitations begins running from the time when the plaintiff discovers the facts, constituting financial abuse or when the abuse should have been discovered with reasonable diligence.

Remedies

If the plaintiff manages to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is legally liable for financial abuse, the court shall award the plaintiff with reasonable attorney’s fees and costs in addition to compensatory damages and all other remedies.

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