California law provides that '"Financial abuse" of an elder or dependent adult occurs when a person or entity does any of the following ..." The statute goes on to list the actions that constitute financial abuse. The list is well covered in California's jury instruction covering the essential factual elements of financial abuse. For now, I want to focus briefly on the factors that go into determining who is a "dependent adult?" California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15610.23 provides:
(a) "Dependent adult" means any person between the ages of 18 and 64 years who resides in this state and who has physical or mental limitations that restrict his or her ability to carry out normal activities or to protect his or her rights, including, but not limited to, persons who have physical or developmental disabilities, or whose physical or mental abilities have diminished because of age. [Emphasis added.]
(b) "Dependent adult" includes any person between the ages of 18 and 64 years who is admitted as an impatient to a 24-hour facility, as defined in ... the Health and Safety Code."
In our experience, it is foreseeable that lawyers defending accused financial abusers of dependent adults will challenge whether the person who brought the lawsuit is in fact a "dependent adult." Breaking this down, it helps to think about the factors listed in the statute.
So, what are some examples of "physical or mental limitations that restrict his or her ability to carry out normal activities or to protect his or her rights ...?" Examples might include:
- Difficulty in driving a car;
- Getting lost while driving, shopping or other activities that involve some form of transportation; Difficulty in playing games;
- Inability to complete simple tasks or household repairs;
- Lack of awareness as to places (thinking that he is in one town while he is located in another); Forgetting relatives' names;
- Inability to prepare meals;
- Sundowning (general confusion as natural light begins to fade and increased shadows appear);
- Intense agitation and mood swings.
The list could go on, and specific mental limitations or diminished mental abilities will vary by the person. In any event, the issue of a "dependent adult" is likely to arise, and it is important to identify the factors supporting the finding before litigation ensues.
Hackard Law represents clients in elder and dependent adult financial abuse litigation. We consider taking substantial cases where we think that we can make a significant difference and there is a wrongdoer who can be made financially accountable for his or her wrongdoing. We litigate in most of California's major urban counties, including Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Alameda.
If you would like to speak with us about your case, call us at 916 313-3030.