Statute of Limitations for Filing an Action Against a Decedent’s Caregiver

September 19, 2017  

Discovering that your loved one’s trusted caregiver exploited or took advantage of your loved one’s finances can be a devastating blow to you and your family, especially if your loved one has since passed. It may seem inconceivable that someone would want to abuse a position of trust for their own gain, but unfortunately some caregivers choose to do just this. What is even more concerning is the fact that you may not have as much time as you think to seek redress for the caregiver’s wrongful conduct.

The Statute of Limitations for Claims in Ohio

Every state (including Ohio) has several statutes of limitations that act to limit the amount of time that is permitted to pass between an event occurring and the filing of a suit on that event. The purpose of these statutes is to prevent claims from becoming “stale” – that is, to prevent too much time from passing such that it becomes difficult to fully and accurately litigate a claim because of fading memories and difficulties in locating witnesses and evidence.

In Ohio, the statute of limitations for a caregiver’s malfeasance will most often be two years (if the wrongful conduct is related to the breach of a contract, the period may be longer). This period begins to run on the date the tortious act occurs, which may or may not be close to the date your loved one passes. For example, if your loved one’s caregiver steals property belonging to your loved one on July 1, 2017, and your loved one passes on July 1, 2018, you may still only have until July 1, 2019 (two years from the date of the theft) in which to file a claim.

The “Rule of Discovery” and the Statute of Limitations

Oftentimes, caregiver misconduct and misappropriation of property does not become apparent until the person passes away and the person’s executor or administrator begins to sift through the decedent’s financial records. Financial malfeasance may therefore not be discovered for years after the statute of limitations has run.

In cases where financial misappropriation or exploitation could not reasonably have been discovered under the circumstances until much later, the statute of limitations will be tolled (or stopped) and will only begin to run as of the date that a person exercising reasonable carefulness knew or should have known of the misconduct. In cases where the victim has died, this would require the executor or administrator to demonstrate that it would have been impossible for a reasonable person in the place of the decedent to have detected or discovered the misconduct within the normal two-year time period.

Can an Ohio Probate Lawyer Assist Me in Seeking Justice for My Loved One?

The Kryszak & Associates is available to advise, assist, and represent executors, administrators, heirs, and/or beneficiaries of decedents whose caregivers misappropriated funds or property during the decedent’s lifetime. Call our Sheffield Village office at 440-934-5330.