While we might consider it rude to investigate the amount or circumstances of a gift, it is perfectly reasonable – and even advisable – to seek further information if you think a gift may be fraudulent. Elder abuse may involve coercing aging relatives into giving away money or other assets, and conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can prohibit a person from being fully aware of the value of what they are giving away. If you received a gift from someone you believe was impaired or unduly influenced, contact an attorney experienced in fraudulent transfers to make sure your own rights are protected.
Impaired Conditions and Gift-Giving
It is unfortunately common for people in impaired mental states to give away valuable property and assets. Luckily, gifts made under these conditions can be reversed regardless of whether the gift-giver is still alive. A gift-giver must have “testamentary capacity” in order for a giftto be considered legally valid.
Testamentary capacity requires that a person be aware and understanding of the nature of their actions, and is specific to different actions. This means that someone who lacks testamentary capacity for writing a will may not lack that capacity with regard to designating power of attorney. The burden of proof rests on the party who aims to show that the gift-giver did not have the capacity to make a gift while of sound mind.
Undue Influence Over Gift-Givers
In addition to impaired conditions, undue influence may affect the legal standing of a gift. You cannot coerce or force someone to give you a gift. The legal definition of a gift requires that it be given voluntarily by the originator of the transfer of money or goods. The court can ask a variety of questions to determine whether a gift was made under undue influence, including whether the gift was given in a manner consistent with any prior plans, the motive behind the gift, and the relationship between the donor and the recipient.
Consult a California Estate Planning Attorney
If you feel you or a loved one has been coerced or tricked into giving a gift, Daniel Leahy can help. An experienced Northern California attorney, Mr. Leahy handles matters of trusts and estate law and serves Alameda County and the surrounding area. At the Law Offices of Daniel Leahy in Oakland, we are prepared to answer your legal questions. Contact us online or call (510) 985-4151 to set up a free consultation.