If you live in California and want to leave a substantial gift to any nonrelative who helps you with personal or health care, see a lawyer first.
You can leave such a gift—but first you may need to have a lawyer sign a statement, verifying that you’re acting freely and aren’t being unduly influenced. If you don’t, the gift could be void—meaning the intended recipient won’t get it. That’s because of a California law that aims to thwart caregivers who take advantage of people who depend on them. Because of the law’s broad terms, it could invalidate perfectly reasonable gifts that you really want to make. For example, a gift to a new neighbor who brings meals and helps you pay bills could be voided, as could a gift to a paid live in
caregiver who has become a good friend. The law might come into play if you’re 65 or older and you want to leave a gift of more than $5,000 (or less if your entire estate will be worth less than $100,000) to:
- a nonrelative you pay to help you, or
- a nonrelative who helps you without pay, if you’ve just recently struck up the relationship.
If you think you might be affected, see a lawyer who handles family or elder care matters and get a statement, called a “certificate of independent review,” which states that you are freely making the gift.
Read the text of this law in California’s Probate Code § 21350.
Learn more about estate planning and probate in Wills, Trusts & Probate on Nolo.com.
For help finding an attorney, try Nolo’s Lawyer Directory.