Elder Abuse Claim

Plaintiffs lack standing to bring elder abuse claim on behalf of decedent where they are not successors in interest or interested persons in proceedings. Joshua Lickter et al., v. Maggie Lickter as Trustee, et al., (No. C061782 California Courts of Appeal, Third Appellate District, October 27, 2010).

The primary issue in this case was who was entitled to commence and/or maintain an elder abuse action after the elder who was allegedly abused had died.  Here, the plaintiffs sued their father, half sisters and half sisters’ mother for elder abuse and other related causes of action that could have belonged to their grandmother.  Plaintiffs claim that they had standing to commence and maintain the action under provisions of the (Welfare and Institutions Code).  Defendants moved for summary judgment based on lack of standing.  The trial court agreed with the defendants that the plaintiffs would have standing only if certain provisions were made under the Probate Code.  The appeals court found that the right to commence an elder abuse action generally passes to the personal representative of the decedent.  However, if the personal representative refuses or is alleged to have committed the abuse, standing to commence the action is granted to an intestate heir, the decedent’s successor-in-interest, or an interested person.  Here, the plaintiffs were former beneficiaries of a trust, having already been paid the amounts they were owed under the trust.  Therefore, they had no interest to be affected by the elder abuse proceedings.  Additionally, there was no evidence that all of the defendants had engaged in elder abuse.  As such, the court found the trial court properly returned plaintiffs’ lack of standing.

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