The State of California recently modified the former definition of “undue influence” in the Welfare and Institutions Code. Before 2014, in order to prove undue influence, a special relationship between the victim and the perpetrator had to be demonstrated. Now, the evidence that someone’s free will has been affected and has resulted in an inequitable situation is sufficient.
California wanted to highlight that the existence of a strong link between the perpetrator and the elderly victim is not the only factor to take into account, as sometimes it turns out that the relationship is not necessarily strong between them. It has to be proven that the “inequitable result” was obtained through excessive persuasion. The statute states that the influencer’s authority over the victim, the degree of vulnerability the victim had, the fairness of the results, and the nature of the actions that led to an “inequitable result” must all be taken into consideration.
The new focus on excessive persuasion results from many cases of will contests where the testator was strongly influenced by the perpetrator to do something against his or her free will. The consequences on the victim both before and after death are taken into account, because some actions continue to produce financial consequences even after death.
The former definition of undue influence included the appropriation of the personal property of an elder or dependent adult motivated by fraudulent intentions. The current definition given by California State implies the idea of obvious coercion from the perpetrator to the victim.
Evans Law Firm, Inc. handles all types of elder abuse lawsuits, including financial elder abuse cases. If you or a loved one has been a victim of elder abuse, please contact Evans Law Firm, Inc. at 415-441-8669 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.