Understanding Caregiver Fraud
It’s a sad fact that elders are especially vulnerable to those closest to them. While family and friend can provide a bulwark of support for a senior in a bad situation, sometimes, someone close to a senior can attempt to isolate and control them, often using the senior’s savings as a personal slush fund. Worst of all, someone acting as a “caregiver” may attempt to write themselves into a senior’s will or trust, either through emotional manipulation, misusing a power of attorney, or through simple forgery. With the expectation of a financial reward after the elder passes away, the caretaker may not be as careful about safeguarding their health.
Fortunately, the California legislature, which has a good awareness of elder abuse issue, has put in place a law to prevent exactly this type of abuse. California Probate Code §§ 21380–21392 limits the size of a gift that caregivers can receive from their charge to $5,000. While this is a substantial amount, it is far less than some abusers try to loot from a senior’s estate, and helps prevent the wholesale fraud that some caregivers try to carry out. In fact, our Alameda financial elder abuse attorneys have seen case where supposed “caretakers” deed themselves houses, property, and assets worth over $1,000,000.
Seniors who do wish to leave substantial sums to a friend or caregiver who has helped them with their health or personal care are still free to do so, but need an attorney to verify that they are doing to without undue influence and of their own free will. This adds a layer of protection that otherwise might not exist, and since abusers rarely want to get entangled in the legal system, can add a roadblock to their attempts to manipulate a senior’s finances.
This law does not prevent seniors from leaving more money to close family members who may have helped them with their health, but would stop them from leaving large amounts to professional or hired caregivers, as well as more distant relatives who may have been involved.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of caregiver fraud, contact one of the Alameda Financial elder abuse attorneys at the Evans Law Firm. Our attorneys have experience handling civil and probate cases, and can help guide seniors and their families through the process of protecting and recovering their finances. We can be reached at (415) 441-8669, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.