California’s Elder Abuse Statute in the Context of Real Property Litigation
Sadly, elders in California are often treated poorly including being abused, abandoned, and neglected. To combat “elder abuse”, the California Legislature enacted Welfare & Institutions Code section 15610 et seq.
(“Elder Abuse Statute”), which establishes the contours of elder abuse in California. This blog post provides some basics about the Elder Abuse Statute and discusses elder abuse in the context of real property litigation.
Who Can Submit an Elder Abuse Claim in California?
The threshold issue of whether a person has a claim under the elder abuse statute is whether a person is an “elder”.
In California, an elder is someone who is sixty-five (65) years of age or older.
Importantly, whether a person is an elder is determined on that person’s age at the time of the subject abusive incident and not at the time the individual files the action. (Davenport v. Litton Loan Servicing)
Categories of Elder Abuse
The question then becomes whether an elder was abused. The Elder Abuse Statute defines the contours of what constitutes abuse by creating the following statutorily enumerated categories of abuse: physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction, or other treatment resulting in physical harm or painor mental suffering” (Welfare & Inst. Code section 15610.07)
Financial abuse may be the most common form of elder abuse as it relates to real property litigation. For example, the Elder Abuse Statute defines “financial abuse” in part, as when a person “takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both”.
(Welfare & Ins. Code section 15610.30) Further, the Elder Abuse Statute also allows for an elder to bring an elder abuse action against a person who assists another in wrongfully taking or obtaining real property from an elder. (Id.)
For example, the California Court of appeals has found elder abuse under the financial abuse provision when a real estate developer effected a lot line adjustment reducing the size of an elder’s real property. (Bonfigli v. Strachan) Indeed, Bonfigli v.Strachan involved allegations that the defendant perpetrated fraud, concealment, false promises and breach of fiduciary duty against an elder. (Id.)
As discussed, elder abuse is unfortunately fairly common. The attorneys at Schorr Law have years of experience litigating elder abuse cases involving real property on behalf of elders including issues of fraud, concealment, false premise, and breach of fiduciary duty.
To that end, the real estate attorneys in Los Angeles, at Schorr Law are skilled at navigating the often-sensitive issues that arise during elder abuse litigation. If you or a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse involving real property, contact Schorr Law to schedule a consolation.
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