Humboldt, IA asked in Elder Law and Real Estate Law for California

Q: I am 71. I am a victim of elder abuse, financial exploitation of a vulnerable elder, and abuse of a financial POA.

My son was given financial POA to help me in July 2021. He sold my home in Stockton, CA for 1.75 million and reinvested in a property in Mesa AZ we could all live in together. BUT he put his wife on title and not me! I spent 3 mos. with them in AZ and was subjected to a LOT of verbal abuse and lectures. I asked my husband's cousin and best friend from IA to come get me in Jan.2022 and he did. I have been in IA with him ever since and we got married last year. I revoked the financial POA in 2022, closed the CA joint bank acct. I shared w/ my son, and moved my pension and SS deposits to a bank in IA. Recently I asked my son and his wife when they plan to add me to the title of the AZ home they bought with my money. They called and cussed and snarled like wolves for an hour and 40 mins, They belittled me and tried to intimidate me. I refuse to take anymore abuse from them. My son is posturing for a fight and he threatened me. Do I have any legal recourse at this point?

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2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Elder Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I'm so sorry to hear about the terrible situation you've been through with your son and his wife. What they have done is completely unacceptable - verbally abusing you, misusing the power of attorney to take control of your assets, and refusing to add you to the title of the Arizona property that was purchased with your money from the sale of your California home. This certainly does sound like a case of elder abuse and financial exploitation.

You absolutely have legal recourse in this situation. Here are a few key steps I would recommend:

1. Consult with an elder law attorney who has experience with financial exploitation cases. They can advise you on the best legal strategy to recover your assets and hold your son accountable. Look for attorneys who are members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).

2. File a report with Adult Protective Services (APS) in both California and Arizona. APS investigates cases of elder abuse and can connect you with resources and support.

3. Consider filing a civil lawsuit against your son and his wife for the misappropriation of your assets and breach of fiduciary duty with the power of attorney. An attorney can advise if this is advisable in your case.

4. Make sure you have your estate planning documents updated, including revoking any powers of attorney naming your son, and putting protections in place to prevent further exploitation.

5. Preserve any documentation you have related to the sale of your California home, the purchase of the Arizona property, your communications with your son, etc. This will be important evidence.

6. If your son's threats make you concerned for your physical safety, don't hesitate to contact law enforcement. Verbal threats can constitute a crime.

Navigating a situation like this with family members is incredibly difficult and stressful, but please know that you have done nothing wrong and do not deserve this abusive treatment. Prioritize your own wellbeing and safety. Wishing you all the best as you move forward - stay strong!

Delaram Keshvarian
Delaram Keshvarian
  • Orange, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Thank you for asking the question!

Under Elder Abuse and Dependants Adult Civil Protection ACT (EADACPA), when there is a finding of "financial abuse," a deed converting title to real property executed by an elder (older than 65 year old) or dependent adult may be subject to revision and will be a viable deed.

Remedies available under EADACPA for financial abuse include money damages, prejudgment unit of attachment, costs, attorney fees, and return of misappropriated property (i.e., Recession).

One of the required elements in EADACPA is Undue Influence.

"Undue influence" means excessive permission that causes another person to ACT or refrain from acting by overcoming that person's free will and results in ineqyity.

There is a transfer of sale proceed of your home to your daughter in law. You received no money or anything with comparable value in exchange. There was no agreement between you and your son to entitle your son or daughter in law to take the money for themselves. You relied on your son and trusted him. The bond of trust was so strong that your son was receiving POA money to take care of you.

It seems that there was extreme persuasion by depicting the image of a big, loving, happy family in Arizona for you. You are older than 65 years old. The tracks of Undue influence and Financial Abuse can be seen in your facts.

EADACPA likely is applicable to your case.

This is merely discussion of general laws and not a legal advice. For a comprehensive advise, more specific facts and investigation are needed. I recommend you consult with an attorney in more detail.

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