Elder Abuse Restraining Orders To Prevent Isolation And Financial Elder Abuse – California Assembly Bill No. 1243, and White v. Wear

Elder abuse restraining orders are in the California news. See my prior February 7, 2022, post discussing recently enacted California Assembly Bill No. 1243, New law expands legal standing in California to petition for a restraining order to stop and prevent elder and dependent adult isolation abuse at https://wordpress.com/post/californiaestatetrust.com/2385.

The following is a discussion about the March 8, 2022, restraining order decision in White v. Wear (March 8, 2022, E076352) ____ Cal. App. 5th ________, in which the court upheld an elder abuse restraining order that precluded the respondent from making or facilitating any change to the estate plan of her 94-year-old stepfather.

In White v. Wear the Court of Appeal held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in entering a restraining order against a step child who tried to unduly influence her mother’s elderly husband to change his estate plan to benefit the mother and the step child. California has long had statutes prohibiting elder and dependent adult abuse – however, there still are relatively few court decisions that interpret or apply those statutes. In White v. Wear the Court discussed restraining orders under California Welfare and Institutions Code section 15657.03 under which a court may issue a restraining order to prevent threatened or actual physical and financial abuse of an elder or a dependent adult.

Quoting from White v. Wear, the following is additional overview from the Court’s Opinion:

“The parties to this appeal are no strangers to this court. This case is yet another skirmish in a long series of disagreements about the control of the multi-million-dollar estate[1] of nonagenarian[2] Thomas S. Tedesco.[3] Plaintiff and respondent Laura White is one of Thomas’s three biological daughters and a cotrustee of his living trust. (Conservatorship of Tedesco (Sept. 19, 2019, E070316) [nonpub. opn.] review denied Dec. 18, 2019, S258835 (Conservatorship, E070316).) Defendant and appellant Debra Wear aka Debbie Basara Wear is one of Thomas’s stepdaughters. In 2013, Thomas suffered serious health issues, which resulted in significant cognitive impairment, leaving him susceptible to being unduly influenced by anyone close to him. Gloria Tedesco, Thomas’s second wife, began denying White and her sisters access to their father, causing him to believe that they were stealing from him. Wear assisted Gloria, her mother, in unduly influencing Thomas via contacting, or facilitating access to, attorneys in order to change Thomas’s estate plan to disinherit his biological family in favor of Gloria and her family. Thus, on August 13, 2015, a permanent conservator of Thomas’s estate was appointed.

Despite the existence of the conservatorship, Wear continued to assist Gloria in taking actions to unduly influence Thomas to change his 30-plus-year estate plan. Consequently, upon White’s petition, the superior court issued an elder abuse restraining order (EARO), restraining Wear for three years from, among other things, financially abusing Thomas, contacting him (either directly or indirectly), facilitating any change to his estate plan, coming within 100 yards of him, and possessing any guns, other firearms, and ammunition. (Welf. & Inst. Code,[4] § 15657.03.) Wear contends the EARO is void because (1) the judge was disqualified and (2) he violated due process by substantially amending the allegations in the petition and prohibiting her from possessing firearms and ammunition. She further asserts the petition fails to state a cause of action for elder financial abuse. We agree the court erred in including a firearms and ammunition restriction in the EARO and direct the court to strike it. Otherwise, we affirm.[5]

Slowly, over time, California is adding additional teeth to its elder and dependent adult abuse statutes and cases, and to the toolbox that attorneys and other professionals can use to prevent and remedy elder and dependent adult abuse. If you scroll through this blog you will find other blog posts discussing conservatorships, elder and dependent adult abuse, mental and physical capacity and limitations, undue influence, litigation, mediation, and other related topics.

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Best to you,

David Tate, Esq. (and inactive CPA)

  • Litigation, Disputes and Trials – Business, Contract/Commercial, Owner, and Founder; and Trust, Estate, Elder/Dependent Abuse, Conservatorships, POA, Real Property, Health and Care, Contentious Administrations, etc.
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Remember, every case and situation is different. It is important to obtain and evaluate all of the evidence that is available, and to apply that evidence to the applicable standards and laws. You do need to consult with an attorney and other professionals about your particular situation. This post is not a solicitation for legal or other services inside of or outside of California, and, of course, this post only is a summary of information that changes from time to time, and does not apply to any particular situation or to your specific situation. So . . . you cannot rely on this post for your situation or as legal or other professional advice or representation.

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David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing as an attorney in California only.