We “ring” in 2022 with a recent case that again shows the long reach of statutory financial elder abuse claims in California trust and estate litigation. In Ring v. Harmon (2021) ___ Cal.App.5th ___, the Court of Appeal considered an alleged loan scheme to drain equity out of a house held in a probate
A new case from the Court of Appeal once again illustrates the robust nature of claims under California’s Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, also known as the Elder Abuse Act.
In Arace v. Medico Investments, LLC (2020) 48 Cal.App.5th 977, a San Bernardino County jury found the owner of a residential care facility for the elderly liable for the financial elder abuse of a resident, but did not award any damages on that claim. Nonetheless, the court properly awarded legal expenses to the plaintiff as the prevailing party. This broad view of a plaintiff’s entitlement to legal expenses shows the bite of the Elder Abuse Act and will encourage elders and their advocates to pursue financial elder abuse claims.
California’s probate process aims to expeditiously identify and resolve the claims of creditors against decedents. Creditors who are unsophisticated, or who simply do not learn of the decedent’s passing, may find themselves with an uncollectable claim against an otherwise solvent estate. You snooze, you lose.
On the other hand, once a creditor makes a claim in a California probate case, the claim can lie dormant like an oak tree in winter and later come to life to interfere with the distribution of the decedent’s assets. That’s the lesson of Estate of Holdaway (2019) 40 Cal.App.5th 1059, published by the Court of Appeal this month.
A recent California appellate case, Stewart v. Superior Court (2017) 16 Cal.App.5th 87, validates the primacy of medical powers of attorney and (as they are more currently known) advance health care directives. Medical providers who disregard the instructions of duly-appointed health care agents by providing unauthorized treatment may be liable in California for elder abuse in addition to medical malpractice.
We focus our blog on the financial aspects of California trust and estate disputes. But, as we increasingly become involved in “parent custody” fights and other conflicts over the care of elder and dependent adults, it is important to understand the authority vested in an agent under a health directive.