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Is Katy Perry Swindling the Elderly Out of Real Estate?

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October 12, 2023 •  Emily Hicks Law, PLLC
Katy Perry has found herself entangled in various legal disputes with elderly homeowners in California, leading to a potential law known as the Katy PERRY Act.

Katy Perry, the famous singer, has found herself entangled in various legal disputes with elderly homeowners in California, leading to the proposal of a potential law known as the Katy PERRY Act. Unfortunately, this isn't a positive claim to fame for the star.

What Is the Katy PERRY Act?
The Katy PERRY Act, also referred to as the PERRY Act, aims to address the issue of elder financial abuse, especially concerning property and real estate sales and transfers. According to its supporters, the Act introduces a 72-hour cool-down period during which either party involved in a contract for the sale of a personal residence, where one party is over 75 years old, can cancel the agreement without any penalties. The Act's name cleverly references the singer, but it also stands for "Protecting Elder Realty for Retirement Years Act."

Although the PERRY Act hasn't undergone any legislative processes yet and is supported by those opposing Katy Perry in her current real estate legal battle, it enjoys bipartisan support. Numerous state representatives, assemblymen, and senators, primarily from New Mexico and Texas, have signed in support. Others hail from Arkansas, California, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.

How Did Katy Perry Inspire the Act?
Katy Perry's involvement in several legal disputes serves as the inspiration behind the proposed act. The website dedicated to the act cites instances of "predatory acquisition, unfair dealing, or elder financial fraud." One of the most recent high-profile cases involves 84-year-old Carl Westcott, who filed a lawsuit to halt the sale of his Santa Barbara, California, home to Katy Perry and her fiancé, Orlando Bloom. Westcott alleges that he "lacked the mental capacity to understand the nature and probable consequences of the contract."

Westcott, diagnosed with Huntington's disease in 2015, had purchased the home in May 2020 with the intention of living there for the rest of his life. However, he was presented with a contract proposal to sell the property to Perry and Bloom shortly thereafter, dated July 14, 2020, for $15 million. Before signing, Westcott had undergone a six-hour back surgery on July 10. At the time of entering the contract, he was in pain, experiencing post-surgical delirium, dealing with dementia from Huntington's disease, and under the influence of pain-killing opiates prescribed by his physicians. (You might recognize the name Westcott as Carl's daughter, Kameron Westcott, was a star on the now-cancelled Real Housewives of Dallas.)

Prior to the Westcott case, Katy Perry faced legal challenges involving elderly property owners when a group of nuns attempted to prevent her from purchasing their California estate, intending to sell it to someone else. Perry's interest in the property dates back to 2013. In 2017, she won the right to buy the convent but needed to find a replacement for the convent's House of Prayer before proceeding. Perry failed to secure one, and her option to purchase the property expired in 2019. Tragically, during the 2018 trial, one of the nuns collapsed and passed away in court.

Why Is the Act Being Proposed?
The proposal of the Katy PERRY Act is driven by concerns surrounding Katy Perry's real estate disputes as well as other contested real estate transactions involving elderly individuals. The website associated with the act points to examples where elderly people sold their homes to entities like the We Buy Ugly Houses franchise for prices below market value. It highlights the absence of laws protecting senior citizens from real estate transactions that may target older individuals with compromised mental capacities at the time of sale.

The website also draws attention to the rising trend of online fraud targeting seniors and an increase in complaints related to elderly fraud. In 2020, individuals aged 60 and older filed over 93,000 fraud complaints with the Federal Trade Commission, reporting losses exceeding $500 million. Additionally, cognitive impairment and dementia affect approximately 15% of individuals by age 75 and 20% by age 80.

The case that served as the catalyst for the act is undoubtedly a sad one for all parties involved, including Katy Perry, who surely never dreamed of becoming associated with real estate controversies involving elderly individuals.

Reference: "Yahoo Lifestyle" (October 2, 2023) Why Is Katy Perry Being Accused of Swindling the Elderly Out of Real Estate?

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