We often we hear of people who have passed-on leaving large sums of money or valuable assets to a caregiver. These gifts to caregivers are often debated in California courts with lawsuits brought by disgruntled family members who received little or nothing from their relative’s estate.
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A caregiver bequest is a gift given by a dependent adult to someone who cares for their well-being. In response to the many cases that were filed regarding caregiver gifts, the California legislature passed into law a requirement that there be completed a “Certificate of Review” when a dying person leaves a substantial gift to a person who is not related.
Presumption of Undue Influence
California has specific laws regarding a caregiver bequests which requires that specific procedures be followed to avoid the bequest being declared void. These laws were enacted because of growing concerns over the vulnerability of seniors who depend on caregivers, and the unique position a caregiver might have in exerting undue influence.
In fact, the law presumes that a caregiver bequest given by a dependent adult to a “care custodian” is the result of fraud or undue influence unless the dependent adult obtains a “certificate of independent review” from an attorney.
Certificate of Review
The Certificate of Review is a document created by an attorney who is not involved with the deceased person’s estate and who has not representing any party involved in a lawsuit pertaining to the estate. The attorney conducts an interview of the caregiver and then certifies that the dying person was aware of what they were doing, was knowledgeable about their estate, and realized that they were making a gift to a non-relative which will affect distributions to family members.
Care Custodian Qualifications
A care custodian is a non-family member who provides “health and social services” to a dependent adult. The definition does not include those who provide services to a dependent adult who do not have any financial benefit if:
- The person had a personal relationship with the dependent adult at least 90 days before providing those services;
- The relationship existed at least six months before the dependent adult’s death; and,
- The relationship existed before the dependent adult entered hospice care.
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