As discussed in last week’s Blog article, Financial Elder Abuse is a growing and serious problem in California. The Welfare and Institutions Code defines it as a situation in which someone:
(1) Takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both.
(2) Assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both.
(3) Takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains, or assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining, real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult by means of undue influence.
The law requires that the defendant knows or should have known that his or her actions had the effect of harming the elder. This latter element is rarely difficult to prove. [Cal. Welfare and Institutions Code section 15610.30].
The penalties for Financial Elder Abuse can be severe. Under California Probate Code Section 859 and related statutes the Defendant may be liable for double the amount of wrongfully taken property, as well as attorney’s fees and court costs. California Probate Code Section 859 provides:
If a court finds that a person has in bad faith wrongfully taken, concealed, or disposed of property belonging to a conservatee, a minor, an elder, a dependent adult, a trust, or the estate of a decedent, or has taken, concealed, or disposed of the property by the use of undue influence in bad faith or through the commission of elder or dependent adult financial abuse, as defined in Section 15610.30 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, the person shall be liable for twice the value of the property recovered by an action under this part. In addition, except as otherwise required by law, including Section 15657.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, the person may, in the court’s discretion, be liable for reasonable attorney’s fees and costs….
[Cal. Probate Code Section 859].
The definition of a wrongful taking under the elder abuse statute is obviously broad. In our experience the California courts often inflict harsh ruling against those who are found to have engaged in Financial Elder Abuse.
If you or a loved one is being victimized by Financial Elder Abuse, fast action is almost always essential. Buffington Law Firm is an experienced elder law firm with a track record of success. We invite you to contact us immediately for a confidential, no-obligation free legal consultation. All consultations are directly with an experienced elder law litigation attorney. Call us today!