Residents of long-term care facilities naturally feel gratitude for their caregivers and occasionally wish to express their appreciation by making gifts. On the other hand, long-term care residents are also often particularly vulnerable to undue influence or outright fraud by those upon whom they so heavily rely. California law imposes limitations on the validity of gifts to long-term caregivers, including those made by a will or trust.
Any gift from a dependent adult to a “care custodian” is presumptively invalid and will only be upheld if the donor is related to or lives with the donee; the donee can prove the gift was not the product of undue influence or fraud; or some other limited circumstances are satisfied. (Probate Code § 21380 – 21381) Gifts of less than $5,000 are presumptively okay but only when the donor’s total estate is worth at least $150,000. Staff of long-term care facilities, as clear care custodians, are subject to the gift prohibition even if the resident eventually moves to another home. Long-term care Ombudsman are also considered care custodians.
A few laws specifically refer to gifts made by long-term care residents. Gifts by RCFE residents worth more than $100 must be documented and made part of the resident’s official records. (22 Cal. Code Regs. §§ 80026(n), 87217(m)) Nursing home staff members, meanwhile, may not receive or purchase any property worth more than $100 from a resident unless witnessed by an Ombudsman. (Health and Safety Code § 1289)