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Summing Up Undue Influence | Fact Sheet


Undue Influence California Law

Yesterday I spoke at an outstanding community presentation on senior scams. My fellow speakers covered topics like check fraud and identity theft, two clear types of elder financial abuse. But there is also a more subtle form of manipulation: undue influence.

Undue influence is a real factor in California estate and trust litigation - sometimes it also goes hand in hand with elder financial abuse. When someone uses disproportionate pressure on a vulnerable elder to affect changes in their estate or trust, that wrongdoing can be classified as undue influence.

Under California's Welfare & Institutions Code 15610.70, undue influence is formally defined as "excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person's free will and results in inequity." There are four main elements to any potential case of undue influence. They are:

  1. Vulnerability: Vulnerability of the victim (incapacity, illness, age, education, impaired cognitive function, etc.)
  2. Authority: Apparent Authority (fiduciary, family member, care provider, medical/legal professional, etc.)
  3. Actions & Tactics: Controlling necessaries of life (medication, interactions), use of affection/intimidation/coercion, estate changes (often in secrecy and haste)
  4. Equity of Result: Economic consequences, divergence of intent, appropriateness of estate change, etc.

If you've been involved in a dispute over a trust or estate, think back and look if any of those factors played a role in an inheritance or distribution that went against an elder's original intent for their family. It may surprise you or it may not, but undue influence is more common than many people imagine.

Hackard Law represents beneficiaries in estate, trust and elder financial abuse cases - many of which have elements of undue influence present. We protect client interests in substantial matters throughout California, including in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Santa Clara, and San Diego. Call us at 916-313-3030, and we'll be glad to see how we can best help you.

Summing Up Undue Influence | Elements from Hackard Law on Vimeo.

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