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What if your mother gives a large monetary gift to a caretaker?

Although your mother needs help with day-to-day tasks, you do not believe she has experienced any mental decline. However, you recently learned she gave her caretaker $15,000, which she told you was for buying the caregiver a car.

Is this transfer of money to the caregiver illegal?

How long has your mother known her caretaker?

If your mother met her caretaker fewer than two years ago, the Florida statute regarding the exploitation of elderly persons probably applies. The statute states that a non-relative cannot receive an inter vivos transfer of more than $10,000 if he or she has not known the giver, who is over the age of 65, for at least two years. "Inter vivos" means the transfer takes place while the giver is still alive, rather than a gift left to a beneficiary through a will or trust.

The caregiver does not receive the money illegally due to exploitation if your mother received goods or services reasonably equivalent to the money given to him or her. 

Is the transfer a loan or gift?

Your mother may claim the money is a loan, but the money transfer could still be the result of exploitation. The only way this kind of transfer is legal is if your mother and the caregiver established in writing the money is a loan. They also need to include specific dates on which the caregiver will make payments. For example, if the loan document states the caregiver will make a $200 payment on the first of every month, and he or she has been making these payments, then the transfer is a valid loan. However, the presumption of exploitation applies in the following cases:

  • There is no loan document
  • There are no payment dates
  • The caregiver has not made payments on the dates specified, and the loan is in default for over 65 days

The presumption of exploitation does not apply if your mother has a business that involves making loans.

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