Caregiver Inheritance Laws: What Is the Presumption of Undue Influence or Fraud?

If you have paid a caregiver to take care of your senior loved one, but they took advantage of them to be included as a beneficiary in their trust or will, know that caregiver inheritance laws are on your side. Caregivers have considerable influence over the lives and estates of those they care for, and, unfortunately, many will abuse this power for their own gain. Thankfully, California has a unique law that presumes undue influence or fraud has occurred if a caregiver is named as a beneficiary in a will or trust, giving you an advantage in the courtroom. 

At Gokal Law Group, we have helped countless beneficiaries bring caregivers with ulterior motives to justice through trust litigation. Read our blog to learn about the presumption of undue influence or fraud and how it can be your greatest weapon in court! 

Caregiver Inheritance Laws: What is the Presumption of Undue Influence or Fraud?

Whenever a will or trust names a caregiver as a beneficiary, this immediately creates a presumption of undue influence or fraud. Both are severe offenses and grounds to invalidate a will or trust in California probate court. 

Like other caregiver inheritance laws in California, this law is in place to protect you and your loved ones. Caregivers are one of many groups of people considered “prohibited transferees” by California Probate Code sections 21360–21392. 

Probate Code section 21380 holds that a will or trust leaving an inheritance to any of the below people is presumed to be the product of fraud or undue influence: 

  • Anyone who drafted or transcribed the instrument or was in a “fiduciary relationship” with the decedent when the will was written, like a trustee or someone who received a Power of Attorney
  • Someone who was a care custodian of a dependent adult who had property transferred to them during the administration of their care within 90 days before or after the last provision of care.
  • Someone who recently entered into a relationship, marriage, or cohabitation with the decedent within 90 days of the execution of the instrument. 

These laws exist because caregivers are in a position of considerable influence and power over seniors. But what does this mean for you as a beneficiary? 

This presumption makes it significantly easier for beneficiaries like yourself to work with a California trust litigation lawyer, file a lawsuit, invalidate a trust or will, and protect your inheritance.

When a California inheritance dispute arises between heirs and caregivers who were named beneficiaries, this presumption of undue influence or fraud means that the burden of proof “shifts” to the caregiver.

This means that the caregiver will have to prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that they did not use fraud or undue influence to coerce the person who created the trust or will into including them as a beneficiary, which is a very difficult burden to meet. 

If a caregiver cannot prove that their beneficiary status had nothing to do with undue influence, they may even have to pay the expenses of the court proceedings, which includes your lawyer fees. 

What Are Exceptions to the Presumption of Undue Influence and Fraud Under California Caregiver Laws

While California inheritance law typically works in your favor, there are exceptions. Some situations in which this presumption does not apply include those where the caregiver:

  • Was related to the person who created the trust or will by blood or marriage.
  • Did not receive payment for taking care of the person who created the trust or will.
  • Met the person who created the trust or will at least 90 days before creating these documents.
  • Received a gift worth $5,000 or less.
  • Was not providing caregiving services to the person who created the documents (within 90 days before or after creating the trust or will.)

Has a Caregiver Abused Their Position? Work With Premier California Inheritance Litigation Attorneys to Receive Justice!

The presumption of undue influence or fraud is your greatest defense under caregiver inheritance laws. If a caregiver has exploited their position to take advantage of a senior loved one, steal from their estate, and jeopardize your inheritance, remember that the law is on your side. With the help of premier lawyers, you can defend your inheritance and bring them to justice. 

At Gokal Law Group, we will fight for you. Visit our Contact Page to schedule a consultation to exercise your rights as a beneficiary and bring an ill-intentioned caregiver to justice. 


The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader, user, or browser and Gokal Law Group, Inc. All information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. 

Readers of this website should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. No reader, user, or browser of this site should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information on this site without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.  Only your individual attorney can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable or appropriate to your particular situation. 

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