It is against the law to abuse or mistreat someone, especially individuals in vulnerable positions. If there is evidence that someone physically abused a family member or older adult in their care, they could face prosecution.
However, many people who mistreat older adults never face criminal consequences for their misconduct. In fact, they might use their position to seek out personal benefits, such as a larger share of the older adult’s estate.
Financial abuse and emotional manipulation could lead to older adults ultimately not having control over their own legacies. California has a law in place that helps protect older adults from this kind of misconduct.
The law views late changes that benefit caregivers as fraud
California state law has a rule that plainly limits the rights of caregivers who also are beneficiaries of someone’s estate. Specifically, those in a fiduciary relationship with the testator or who are about to enter into one cannot receive a bequest or donative transfer from the testator. Transfers and estate plan updates made when a beneficiary has caregiver authority or within 90 days of them having that authority are presumed to be fraudulent under state law.
If your sister took care of your ailing father for 18 months and became the sole beneficiary of his estate in that time, then the rest of the family will have a strong case to claim fraud and challenge the estate plan in probate court. The sister who served as a caregiver can defend her position by providing clear proof that neither fraud nor undue influence occurred.
While probate challenges will likely consume some of the assets from the estate, they can help ensure that someone who misused a position of trust and authority won’t secure financial profit from their misconduct.
Documents are a good starting place when you suspect caregiver fraud
Looking at the date that someone created or updated their estate planning documents and making sense of what changes occurred at that time can help you start building a case to bring to the California probate courts alleging fraud or undue influence on the part of the caregiver turned beneficiary.