What do you do if someone steals money or property from a trust or estate? California Probate Code section 850 allows you to ask the Superior Court to order the thief to give the money or property back. To discourage such theft, Probate Code section 859 provides that the wrongdoer “shall be liable for twice the value of the property recovered,” and may be liable for legal expenses incurred to recover the property, if you can prove the wrongdoer took the asset in bad faith, through undue influence, or through the commission of financial elder abuse.
Like many California statutes, the “twice the value” language of Probate Code section 859 is not crystal clear. Thankfully, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Conservatorship of Ribal (2019) 31 Cal.App.5th 519 recently provided guidance as to how to the calculation works. Continue Reading