Undue influence is a travesty that exploits elderly individuals in the state of California and around the world. In fact, this problem victimizes approximately five-million senior citizens annually. Some of the ways undue influence manifests are: tacitly exerting control over another’s business, influencing their estate planning decisions, or even swaying their medical decisions, such as encouraging them to relocate to an assisted living facility if it benefits the influencer.
If you are tasked with a case involving undue influence California, consider consulting Dr. Stacey Wood. Dr. Wood possesses significant experience as an expert witness in undue influence cases. A leading forensic neuropsychologist on your team can provide the edge your clients desire and deserve.
If you are seeking a neuropsychologist and forensic expert who is licensed in Washington State or California, see Dr. Wood’s curriculum vitae for more information.
Board Certified in Geropsychology
Years of experience
Trials and Depositions
Undue Influence in California
Undue Influence in California (also known as UI) can happen when the senior is reasonably capable but is at risk due to various other factors. These can include cognitive decline, dependence, and/or isolation.
Although it is sometimes perpetrated by a stranger or a new person in the life of the victim, it is often done by a loved one. Undue influence can take many forms: from isolating the victim by preventing them from speaking freely to trusted loved ones to taking control of medical decisions to putting pressure on the victim about their financial choices.
The definition of undue influence in California received a makeover on January 1, 2014, with California Probate Code section 86 and California Welfare and Institutions Code section 15610.70 going into effect. The California Legislature felt a need to provide a clear definition of undue influence in California probate courts. Increasingly, court officials and attorneys are depending on neuropsychologists like Dr. Stacey Wood to help make assessments, testify in court, and assist in investigations.
Dr. Wood’s Undue Influence Experience
Attorneys operating in the field of senior law and elder abuse are frequently dissuaded from bringing “gray” area cases before judges. These cases often have egregious outcomes but they also might result in strong disagreement.
Nevertheless, the 2014 clarification of the Undue Influence law in California has improved petitioners’ capacity to organize information, craft arguments, and potentially persuade judges to review cases that may prove undue influence. This is often aided by psychologists who are knowledgeable in the field.
Dr. Stacey Wood is an undue influence and elder abuse expert. She has worked on well over 200 Adult Protective Services (APS) and fraud cases in her work as a consultant in Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino Counties.
Additionally, Dr. Wood actively publishes research in the areas of financial elder abuse and fraud. Dr. Wood’s experience in the field can be especially valuable as she is capable of helping attorneys assemble a case to prove undue influence in court.
Contact a proven undue influence expert for your next case.
Why choose Dr. Wood for undue influence cases?
Proving undue influence California is a difficult task for attorneys, especially where a particular family member is the apparent authority figure. Courts are inclined to believe that individuals have sufficient mental capacity to execute their own wishes and thus, the majority of UI cases are disregarded or dismissed due to lack of evidence.
Difficult cases are, nonetheless, not impossible. In 2014, clarifications of the Undue Impact statute in Orange County and throughout California equipped petitioners with a significantly boosted capacity to persuasively argue their positions.
More than Just a Witness
When trying to create winning Undue Influence California cases, it is essential to speak with an informed and experienced California neuropsychology forensic expert, such as Dr. Stacey Wood. This step may turn a difficult case into a winning one.
Dr. Wood is a nationally-renowned expert on decisional capacity. By adding her to your team, your firm also gains someone who can assist in putting together a case for undue influence in California.
A Leading Voice on Undue Influence
Dr. Wood is a professor of psychology, an active researcher, and has also served as Lead Editor and a major contributor for the APA/ABA handbook on assessing older adults with diminished capacity for lawyers.
Dr. Wood is a leading voice in decisional capacity and undue influence California cases throughout the Pacific Northwest. She maintains a continuing educational approach in these topics. This enables her to stay up-to-date with all of the most recent advancements in the area so she can provide evidence-based services to these cases.
Vital Courtroom Experience
Dr. Wood has experience presenting complex undue influence cases in her writing, reports, presentations, and by testifying. She additionally provides retained services for a number of counties in California on elder issues and has served as an expert witness in cases nationwide.
Interested in working with Dr. Wood on your next undue influence case?
Featured Information on Undue Influence
Dr. Stacey Wood is one of the nation’s leading expert witnesses in the areas of decisional capacity and neuropsychology.
In California, Adult Protective Services (APS) receives as many as 10,000 reports of elder and dependent abuse per month, and APS has stated those numbers are increasing.
Dr. Stacey Wood
Molly Mason Jones Professor of Psychology, Scripps College. Board certified in geropsychology.
My scholarly interests are in the areas of neuropsychology and decision-making from a lifespan development perspective. I am interested in how changes in the brain, emotion, and motivation interact across the lifespan to influence how we make decisions. I am especially interested in taking theoretical work and applying it to everyday types of decisions. One such application is in the area of assessing decision-making capacity for the courts. An understanding of cognitive mechanisms that may underlie specific types of legal decisions (i.e. testamentary, financial) can help us to design better tools and be more effective as witnesses.
Undue Influence in California: Extended Information
Generally, UI refers to a forceful dynamic between two individuals where one exerts “excessive persuasion” upon the other. This involves pressure on an individual that causes that person to act according to the wishes and for the benefit of the influencer, often in ways that oppose his or her own personal interests. This pressure can take place by way of harassment, threats, seclusion, or threats of isolation.
Frequently the influencer places him/herself between the individual and friends/loved ones. This makes the victim easier to coerce. Having the consultation of a reputable psychologist with “fraud in the family” experience can shed light on the matter.
Undue Influence California Law
Unfortunately, the impact of undue influence California usually expands beyond that of financial loss. The resultant stress and anxiety can trigger strong negative feelings like rage and despair. They can even take a physical and psychological toll on someone who was previously a strong and mentally healthy person.
The good news is, the 2014 clarifications of the Undue Influence law in Orange County and throughout California has considerably improved a petitioner’s capacity to build a winning case. Retaining a forensic psychologist with undue influence and capacity experience can further improve the odds of presenting a winning case.
California Probate Code 850
California Probate Code 850 is found in Division 2, Part 19 of the Probate Code regarding conveyance or transfer of property claimed to belong to the decedent or another person. It reads as follow:
(a) The following persons may file a petition requesting that the court make an order under this part:
(1) A guardian, conservator, or any claimant, in the following cases:
(A) Where the conservatee is bound by a contract in writing to convey real property or to transfer personal property, executed by the conservatee while competent or executed by the conservatee’s predecessor in interest, and the contract is one that can be specifically enforced.
(B) Where the minor has succeeded to the interest of a person bound by a contract in writing to convey real property or to transfer personal property, and the contract is one that can be specifically enforced.
(C) Where the guardian or conservator or the minor or conservatee is in possession of, or holds title to, real or personal property, and the property or some interest therein is claimed to belong to another.
(D) Where the minor or conservatee has a claim to real or personal property title to or possession of which is held by another.
(2) The personal representative or any interested person in any of the following cases:
(A) Where the decedent while living is bound by a contract in writing to convey real property or to transfer personal property and dies before making the conveyance or transfer and the decedent, if living, could have been compelled to make the conveyance or transfer.
(B) Where the decedent while living binds himself or herself or his or her personal representative by a contract in writing to convey real property or to transfer personal property upon or after his or her death and the contract is one which can be specifically enforced.
(C)Where the decedent died in possession of, or holding title to, real or personal property, and the property or some interest therein is claimed to belong to another.
(D) Where the decedent died having a claim to real or personal property, title to or possession of which is held by another.
(3) The trustee or any interested person in any of the following cases:
(A) Where the trustee is in possession of, or holds title to, real or personal property, and the property, or some interest, is claimed to belong to another.
(B) Where the trustee has a claim to real or personal property, title to or possession of which is held by another.
(C) Where the property of the trust is claimed to be subject to a creditor of the settlor of the trust.
(b) The petition shall set forth facts upon which the claim is based.
(Added by Stats. 2001, Ch. 49, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2002.)
850 Petition in California
A typical 850 Petition in California is used to transfer real property into a revocable trust after the death of a trust creator (called the “Settler”) where title to such property was not properly titled in the name of the trust before death (Davidson, Keith A. November 23, 2010).
One of the most commonly cited cases in 850 Petitions is the Estate of Heggstad.
California Probate Code, Section 15800
Another important Undue Influence California code is Probate Code, Section 15800, which states:
Except to the extent that the trust instrument otherwise provides or where the joint action of the settlor and all beneficiaries is required, during the time that a trust is revocable and the person holding the power to revoke the trust is competent:
(a) The person holding the power to revoke, and not the beneficiary, has the rights afforded beneficiaries under this division.
(b) The duties of the trustee are owed to the person holding the power to revoke.
(Enacted by Stats. 1990, Ch. 79.)
California Probate Code Section 86
California Probate Code Section 86 can be found in Division 1, Part 2.
“Undue influence” has the same meaning as defined in Section 15610.70 of the Welfare and Institutions Code. It is the intent of the Legislature that this section supplement the common law meaning of undue influence without superseding or interfering with the operation of that law.
(Added by Stats. 2013, Ch. 668, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2014.)
A qualified, local psychologist can further explain how this can be used to benefit your clients.
California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15610.70
California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15610.70 was enacted by the California Legislature in 2013 and the text serves as the definition within the state to determine whether someone was unduly influenced.
(a) “Undue influence” means excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person’s free will and results in inequity. In determining whether a result was produced by undue influence, all of the following shall be considered:
(1) The vulnerability of the victim. Evidence of vulnerability may include, but is not limited to, incapacity, illness, disability, injury, age, education, impaired cognitive function, emotional distress, isolation, or dependency, and whether the influencer knew or should have known of the alleged victim’s vulnerability.
(2) The influencer’s apparent authority. Evidence of apparent authority may include, but is not limited to, status as a fiduciary, family member, care provider, health care professional, legal professional, spiritual adviser, expert, or other qualification.
(3) The actions or tactics used by the influencer. Evidence of actions or tactics used may include, but is not limited to, all of the following:
(A) Controlling necessaries of life, medication, the victim’s interactions with others, access to information, or sleep.
(B) Use of affection, intimidation, or coercion.
(C) Initiation of changes in personal or property rights, use of haste or secrecy in effecting those changes, effecting changes at inappropriate times and places, and claims of expertise in effecting changes.
(4) The equity of the result. Evidence of the equity of the result may include, but is not limited to, the economic consequences to the victim, any divergence from the victim’s prior intent or course of conduct or dealing, the relationship of the value conveyed to the value of any services or consideration received, or the appropriateness of the change in light of the length and nature of the relationship.
(b) Evidence of an inequitable result, without more, is not sufficient to prove undue influence.
(Added by Stats. 2013, Ch. 668, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2014.)
Contact a reputable neuropsychologist to provide input and advice in a case where you question the vulnerability of the victim and the possibility of undue influence.