California has some of the best financial elder abuse laws in the country, specifically designed to protect the elderly from financial abuse. But, to take full advantage of these laws, one needs to know the proper court for the type of case.
Broadly speaking, there are two circumstances of financial elder abuse, each of which requires a different type of attorney. The first type is the “intra-family” dispute: where relatives are claiming that they have been cheated out of an inheritance, where a son or daughter is wasting or abusing the parents’ assets, where family members are refusing to pay for an incompetent parent’s necessary care. These cases belong in the probate court and you will need a probate attorney for these cases. My firm can refer competent probate attorneys in the greater Los Angeles area.
The second type of financial elder abuse occurs in financial or retail transactions: car dealers, finance companies, banks, mortgage lenders, etc. take advantage of a senior citizen (age 65 and older). My firm handles several financial elder abuse issues: elderly people getting scammed by car dealers, mortgage companies, car finance companies. This type of activity is made illegal by Welfare & Institutions Code 15610.30:
(a) “Financial abuse” of an elder or dependent adult occurs when a person or entity does any of the following:
(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 undue influence, as defined in Section 15610.70.
(b) A person or entity shall be deemed to have taken, secreted, appropriated, obtained, or retained property for a wrongful use if, among other things, the person or entity takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains the property and the person or entity knew or should have known that this conduct is likely to be harmful to the elder or dependent adult.
The California Financial Elder Abuse law encourages seniors to seek legal assistance. A senior citizen prevailing in an action for financial elder abuse is entitled to any financial damages as well as emotional distress or mental anguish damages. In addition, California law provides that a senior citizen prevailing in such an action can obtain treble (triple) damages plus their attorney’s fees and costs from the offending party.
Please feel free to call my firm if you have any questions about financial elder abuse. To be clear, I am not a probate attorney and cannot handle intra-family issues. However, my firm handles many of the “retail” cases, where banks, car dealers, finance companies or mortgage companies rip off seniors.