California Law On Duty Of “Highest Good Faith” For Spouses
Prohibition of Taking Unfair Advantage
In any transaction between married persons in California each spouse is subject to “a duty of the highest good faith and fair dealing” and prohibited from taking “any unfair advantage of the other.” See Calif. Family Code § 721. The duty of “highest good faith and fair dealing” applies to transfers at death made by surviving spouses under Wills or Trusts. See Lintz v. Lintz, 222 Cal.App.4th 1346 (2014). The San Francisco and California elder abuse attorneys at Evans Law Firm, Inc. represent seniors and family members in cases where a surviving spouse takes unfair advantage of the predeceased spouse, who may have suffered from dementia for example, to benefit the surviving spouse’s children over the heirs of the impaired spouse. If you or a loved one is a senior or dependent adult who has been injured by this kind of financial elder or dependent adult abuse, call us today at (415)441-8669.
A new California law provides that gifts to a care custodian are presumptively the product of undue influence if the gift is made within six months of the care custodian’s marriage to a patient. Calif. Probate Code § 21380(a)(4). At-death asset transfers by surviving spouses who are not care custodians are not subject to that presumption of undue influence. See new Calif. Family Code § 721 and Calif. Probate Code § 21385. However, the duty any spouse owes to the other is always subject to the standard of the “highest good faith and fair dealing” and taking “unfair advantage” of the other spouse is always prohibited. Calif. Family Code § 721; Lintz v. Lintz, 222 Cal.App.4th 1346 (2014).
Challenges Must Be Brought Quickly
Heirs of a dependent or ailing spouse often suffer when a surviving spouse takes “unfair advantage” of the heirs’ ailing or dependent parent. The aggrieved heirs may challenge the terms of any Will or Trust that is the product of unfair advantage but the statute of limitations are extremely short for such challenges. Calif. Probate Code § 8270(c) (120 days to challenge Will admitted to probate): § 16061.7 (120 days to challenge trust made irrevocable by trustor’s death). If you have been injured by this kind of financial elder abuse you must act within the prescribed time limits.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of financial elder abuse in San Francisco or elsewhere in California at the hands of a surviving spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, care custodian or any other person contact California financial elder abuse attorney Ingrid M. Evans and the other Evans Law Firm elder abuse attorneys at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>. Our attorneys have experience with all types of physical and financial elder abuse, investment and securities fraud and annuity fraud, and nursing home abuse. We can guide your case through a jury trial, or toward an equitable settlement. We also handle qui tam and whistleblower lawsuits, whole life insurance and universal life insurance cases, and cases involving indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.