Step back in time a few years - California's new law on the definition for undue influence and financial elder abuse is not yet in place - and California courts, attorneys, plaintiffs and defendants operate with an undue influence definition that dates from 1872 unchanged. Bay area families fighting to protect family members from financial elder abuse lack important tools to bring wrongdoers to justice.
In January 2014, a law became effective that incorporates up-to-date scientific knowledge in crafting California's significant overhaul of the definition of undue influence. The law now provides that undue influence is "excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person's free will and results in inequity." Such inequity may include the "economic consequences to the victim" and "any divergence from the victim's prior intent or course of conduct or dealing."
When it comes to economic consequences, the Bay Area is ground zero. The common focus of an undue influence transfer - a home - is now often a million-dollar problem. San Francisco, both blessed and burdened by one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, is also the home of one of the busiest probate courts in the state.
Financial elder abuse litigation over San Francisco or Bay Area home transfers can be a thorny challenge. "Robo lawyering" or "phoning it in" just won't work. The qualities that are often the keys to success in elder abuse litigation are creativity, perseverance, and excellence in lawyering and in ethics - all qualities highly valued and upheld by Hackard Law.
When it comes to litigating estate, trust and ownership disputes over San Francisco and Bay Area houses, the stakes are huge. There are big risks coupled with the potential of big losses. For those who find the standard hourly fees charged by trust, probate and estate litigators beyond reach, Hackard Law will often enter into contingency fee arrangements - that is no fees unless there is a litigated result or settlement.
When it comes to high-stakes estate litigation, abused beneficiaries and heirs do not need to be alone in the fight. Hackard Law is committed to its clients and to representing abused beneficiaries and heirs seeking to recover assets wrongfully taken from elders or estates.
If you would like to speak to Mike Hackard about a particular problem that you are encountering, call us at 916-313-3030. We'll be happy to see how we can help you.