The Los Angeles area real estate market is continuing to grow at a dynamic pace. Last year the median price for homes in Southern California jumped 8.2% to over half a million dollars. The LA housing market, like other vibrant California markets, is proving a great way to build wealth by home appreciation. Baby Boomers and the "Silent Generation" comprise a very significant share of LA homeowners. This immense source of wealth is often targeted, taken or obtained by elder financial abusers. This is a problem that we all should know about.
California elders, defined as those 65 and above, are the recognized targets of growing elder financial abuse. A report submitted to the California Commission on Aging recites that there are over 200,000 victims of financial elder abuse. Given LA's large population it's logical that a sizeable number of these victims are Los Angeles residents. While we litigate on behalf of abused elders, I must note that we can't take every case. That said, we often litigate elder financial abuse cases involving house transfers.
Liability for elder financial abuse is imposed if a plaintiff (the elder or their representative) proves by a preponderance of evidence that:
(1) The defendant took/appropriated/obtained or retained the elder's property;
(2) The elder was 65 years of age or older at the time of the conduct;
(3) That the defendant took/appropriated/obtained or retained the property for a wrong use or with the intent to defraud or by undue influence;
(4) That the elder or their representative was harmed; and
(5) That the defendant's conduct was a substantial factor in causing that harm.
Juries may also be instructed that one way the elder or their representative can prove the defendant took/appropriated/obtained or retained the property for a wrongful use is by proving the defendant knew or should have known that his conduct was likely to be harmful to the elder or their representative, and that the defendant took/appropriated/obtained or retained property if the elder or their representative was deprived of the property by an agreement, gift, will or trust.
Almost 13% of LA County's population are seniors, and when they are vulnerable to elder financial abuse, so are their families. I've seen plenty of cases where a wrongdoing trustee will think they're invulnerable to a challenge in court - they've taken the money, and the rightful beneficiaries are left out to dry. That's where contingency fees come in. In the right circumstances, a contingency fee arrangement can be an effective way of fighting back. We review every case carefully to make sure each one conforms to California State Bar ethical guidelines and is mutually beneficial to both the client and attorney.
If your Los Angeles family estate or trust is at risk because of elder financial abuse, it's important to consider timely legal action. Hackard Law regularly serves LA beneficiaries, and we're dedicated to safeguarding client interests. You can call us today at 213-357-5200. We look forward to speaking with you.