Legal Question in Elder Law in California

Is this financial elder abuse?

My stepsister was put on my stepfathers checking and savings accounts (held as joint tenants) for the ''sole purpose'' of paying his expenses at his mobile home (space rent, utilities,etc) and at assisted living, when he went to assisted living because it was near her home. He kept his mobile because he wasn't sure if he wanted to go to assisted living, but she convinced him to go telling him they would treat it as a vacation and he could return home if he didn't like it there. While he was alive, excessive amounts of money were unaccounted for. He passed away unexpectedly 9 weeks after being there. The day after he died she removed the rest of the money, except for a small amount..I guess to keep the accounts open. These accounts were left to another person in his will that he made approxiamately 2 years earlier. Also, after he died 3 months ago, she has refused to pay the space rent, property taxes and other expenses for the mobile home.To avoid a lien being put against it, we have been forced to pay these expenses which she was supposed to pay from his accounts. Is this considered ''Elder Abuse or self dealing?'' From what I've read about situations like this, it sounds like it. Your help would be greatly apprecated. Thank you.

Asked on 2/15/06, 11:31 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Sharon Green Sharon Green, Lawyer

Re: Is this financial elder abuse?

If your stepsister was a joint tenant on the bank accounts she became the sole owner when your stepfather died. He, in essence, made a gift of the account to her when he put her name on as a joint tenant. The will cannot give the bank acounts to anyone else because ownership passed to her the instant he died. His estate no longer owns the bank accounts. If there is anything in writing stating the sole purpose of making your stepsister a joint tenant was limited as you say you may be able to pursue a claim. The stepsister is likely to win because he did make a gift to her when he made her a joint tenant.

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Answered on 2/22/06, 9:54 pm

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