California’s Care Custodian Statute

Whether you’re a caretaker who is receiving a gift from someone you built a relationship with or a senior citizen who wishes to repay your caretaker for all they’ve done, you should take the time to educate yourself on California’s Care Custodian statute. Transferring gifts between patient and caregiver is carefully regulated by the state of California to prevent a form of elder abuse named undue influence.

Undue influence is when a caretaker influences their patient to include them as a beneficiary to their will, trust, or any similar transfer of assets. Because caretakers have unique access to the patient, and control over significant areas of their life, there exists a large potential for the caretaker to unjustly coerce their patient into leaving them something. California seeks to offset this large risk by taking precautionary legal measures that ensure any transfers between patient and caregiver are consensual.

Any transfer of assets from the patient to the caretaker in this form is by default presumed to be fraudulent, and therefore invalid. This does not include the family members of the patient or their spouse, or if the gift is valued at $5,000 or less. California considers these transfers to be fraudulent by default because it makes the case of the beneficiaries easier if there was any undue influence. Otherwise, it would be the burden of the beneficiary to prove that the caretaker created undue influence, which can be extremely difficult. 

Thankfully, if you are a patient who wishes to leave something to your caretaker, there are ways to facilitate this under California law. Because the gift is considered fraudulent, it is the burden of the caretaker to prove that it was not. You can help with a “Certificate of Independent Review”, which requires that you work with counsel who will evaluate whether or not undue influence was used and that you are fully cognizant of your actions. This certificate can help ensure that your will is followed and your caretaker receives what you intend them to. 

One important risk to fighting the presumption of fraud is that the caregiver must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was no undue influence, or else they will be responsible for the costs of the case. This is another step in discouraging unjust claims by caretakers.

If you’re seeking assistance with a Certificate of Independent Review, or need assistance planning your trust, please contact us today to speak with an experienced advisor.

The following two tabs change content below.

Dahl Law Group

At Dahl Law Group, we’re not just a law firm. We’re your trusted advisor for your business and family from beginning to end. As your family and business grow, we will be there by your side. Our passion is providing you with peace of mind and protection through personalized estate and business planning.

Latest posts by Dahl Law Group (see all)