practice areas

A dependent adult in California must often rely on a caregiver to supply basic needs. While some people move into a nursing home, others are able to remain at home with a care custodian. 

The Record-Bee reports that California Probate Code has protections in place to prevent undue influence on the part of care custodians, and as of late June of 2019, that protection has become stronger. 

The loophole 

Before the amendment was signed into law, undue influence was a presumption if a dependent adult made a gift to a care custodian either while living or in an estate plan unless the care custodian could show through clear and convincing evidence that it was not undue influence. 

However, there was an exemption to that presumption before the amendment: A care custodian who is a spouse, domestic partner or cohabitant of the dependent adult was able to receive gifts and to be a death beneficiary of the dependent adult’s will, trust, life insurance policy or retirement accounts. Not only that, the care custodian spouse could still receive a presumptive intestate share when the dependent adult died even if the deceased had not provided a gift or changed the estate plan. 

The amendment 

Now, the law states that undue influence is presumed even if the care custodian marries the dependent adult, as long as the gift or change to the will or other estate plan document occurs within six months of the marriage. Also, if the dependent adult dies within six months of the marriage, the care custodian spouse does not qualify to receive the intestate share.