If you are tasked with a case involving undue influence in California, consider consulting with Dr. Stacey Wood. Dr. Wood possesses significant experience as an expert witness in undue influence cases. Get a leading forensic neuropsychologist on your team and gain the edge your clients are looking for. See Dr. Wood’s curriculum vitae.
Undue Influence in California
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 geropsychologists to help make assessments, testify in court, and assist in investigations.
Dr. Wood’s Undue Influence Experience
Dr. Stacey Wood is an undue influence expert in California. She has worked on well over 200 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 you assemble an undue influence case in court.
Contact a proven undue influence expert for your next case.
Why choose Dr. Wood for undue influence cases?
More than Just a Witness
Dr. Wood is a nationally-renowned expert on decisional capacity, but 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 full professor of psychology, active researcher, and has served as Lead Editor and major contributor for the APA/ABA handbook on assessing older adults with diminished capacity for lawyers.
Vital Courtroom Experience
Dr. Wood has experience presenting complex undue influence cases in her writing, reports, presentations and testifying. Dr. Wood provides retained services for a number of counties in California on elder issues and has served as 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.
Probate conservatorship proceedings in California, a judge appoints a conservator to care for another adult who cannot care for him/herself or his/her finances.
In California, the legal standard for creating a will has two components: the testator must be 18 years of age and of “sound mind,” which means possessing testamentary capacity.
Dr. Stacey Wood
Professor of Psychology, Scripps College
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
Undue Influence California Law
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 decedent or other 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 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
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.)
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 of undue influence within the state.
(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.)