We learn by stories. Given our law firm's position and commitment to LA estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation, we hear lots of stories - stories that many times develop new chapters in Los Angeles County Superior Court. While I can't reveal attorney client communications, I can take literary license to depict issues of estate theft and wrongdoing that we regularly litigate. In this spirit, let's go back to June 2016.
Hello, I'm Mike Hackard. I'm the chair of Hackard Law, a law firm focusing on estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation in California's major urban areas. I'm the author of The Wolf at The Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse. The book is now available for order on Amazon. This is episode 23, where I discuss reviewing a potential case of elder financial abuse or other wrongdoing over a trust or estate.
Hello, I'm Mike Hackard. I'm the chair of Hackard Law, a law firm focusing on estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation in California's major urban areas. I'm the author of The Wolf at The Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse. The book is now available for order on Amazon. This is episode 22, where I emphasize the importance of quick, decisive action in probate and trust lawsuits.
When "an elderly person with a joint bank account dies, do the funds belong to the decedent's estate or do they belong to the additional signer as a co-owner of the account?" A recent California Court of Appeal case held that "[s]ums remaining on deposit at the death of a party to a joint account belong to the surviving party . . . as against the estate of the decedent unless there is clear and convincing evidence of a different intent." This is a basic or black-letter rule, a clear statement of the law. It is also a trap for those inclined to seize upon a seemingly clear explanation of the law that leaves no room for interpretation or nuance.
Anxiety fueled by grief is a part of the inventory process of a decedent's property. A family member is tasked by practicality, family consensus, or an estate document to gather a decedent's assets. Some assets are obvious - a house, documented bank accounts and securities and onsite personal property. Other assets are more opaque - physically separated in a financial institution safe deposit box or a house or office safe.
It's 2017. Experts estimate that California's population is approaching 40 million. Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Alameda, Contra Costa and Sacramento Counties are a very significant part of our state's annual growth. These are also counties where Hackard Law regularly litigates disputed trust, estate and elder financial abuse cases.
A few years ago I decided to pursue a video path to getting our ideas of estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation into the marketplace of ideas. I was motivated in part by the desire to not squander the knowledge that some forty years of law practice produced. And basically I wanted to get attention for my law firm's approach to protecting elders, their estates and their families.
Your parents owned a business and real estate. They successfully managed the business for decades and built up family assets. They put these assets into a trust where they remained as trustees during their lifetime. When they passed away, successor trustees took over. The successor trustees, through incompetence or even wrongdoing, are damaging your family's economic heritage. They are failing to keep trust property separate and identified, they lack complete and accurate financial records, they are self-dealing, and they are failing to comply with California's requirements for serving as trustees.
MH: Hello, I'm Mike Hackard. I'm the chair of Hackard Law, a law firm focusing on estate, trust, and elder financial abuse litigation, in California's major urban areas. This is Hackard Law's podcast, It Starts Here. This is an August 2017 podcast featuring Pat McClain, and I'll give you a little background on Pat, but you may already know it but he is the Co-Founder and Senior Partner of Hanson McClain Advisors. He has been in business for more than 24 years, has over 2 billion under management. He is listed as one of the Top 100 Barron's wealth advisors, he has been the co-host of Money Matters radio show for over 20 years. And it's one of the longest, if not the longest-running financial talk radio show in the country. And he is the chairman of the board of Sacramento Food Bank, and for many years he has led that effort and Run to Feed the Hungry on Thanksgiving Day, so thank you, Pat.
A trustee who embraces transparency in timely informing beneficiaries of changes in a trust may often bring reconciliation to a family divided by grief and familial stresses. The countervailing movement to transparency is secrecy. Secrecy between trustees and beneficiaries may sow distrust, uncertainty and is fertile ground for imagined wrongs - whether valid or invalid.