Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Challenges to Estate Planning Documents and Elder Abuse Litigation

In last month’s blog entry we discussed the requirements for a valid California will and some of the potential grounds for challenging a will, including allegations of:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity

  • Fraud

  • Undue influence

  • Duress

  • Improper execution of the will

  • Elder abuse

Financial Elder Abuse Litigation

Unfortunately the elderly are particularly vulnerable to fraud, coercion, undue influence and duress, often because of Alzheimer’s or dementia, or due to loneliness or isolation from friends and relatives. Many of our elders are being robbed of their hard earned savings by strangers, personal or financial advisors, caregivers or even family members. Many seniors have been coerced into creating or changing wills or trusts to name the abuser as the beneficiary, or changing beneficiary designations on life insurance or retirement benefit accounts to name the abuser as the beneficiary.

California has seen an exponential increase in the number of lawsuits filed alleging financial elder abuse, partly because of our growing population of seniors, and partly due to increased awareness and enhanced protection of elders due to changes in the law.

California Laws Protecting Elders from Financial Abuse

California law has been expanding protections for the finances of our senior citizens by broadening the definition of financial abuse and making it easier for victims to bring lawsuits and prove their case. California law defines financial elder abuse as the taking, appropriating or retaining the real or personal property of an elder for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both. California law requires banks and other financial institutions to report suspicious conduct which may constitute financial elder abuse since bank personnel and financial brokers are often in the best position to notice the signs of financial elder abuse.

San Diego Probate, Trust & Estate Litigation
San Diego attorney Vincent Casiano has significant experience in financial elder abuse cases as well as probate and trust litigation arising out of financial elder abuse. the Casiano Law Firm for experienced advice and representation.