San Francisco Estate Attorney


San Franciscans love San Francisco. But you don't have to be a local to love "The City" or the "City by the Bay." For veteran estate attorney Michael Hackard, San Francisco is "The City." It is the City where his Irish great-grandparents immigrated to in the 1880s, where his grandparents were born, experienced the 1906 earthquake, were married and had their Wedding Reception at the Palace Hotel, and raised their children. The City is where Michael's mother was born, his grandfather practiced accounting for decades and his great-grandfather - "Honest John" served for over 30 years as a proud member of the San Francisco Police Department.

Michael Hackard sets the tone for the law firm's passion and commitment to matters in San Francisco. For Michael, it is not simply a matter of venue - it is a matter of great appreciation for his own family history as well as the site of many matters that he has handled during his 40 years of law practice.

It is said the population of San Francisco swells by at least 20 percent - more than 160,000 people - on a business day. When members of Hackard Law have meetings, court hearings or related matters in San Francisco we become part of the 160,000 population swell. That said, most of the time spent on estate, trust and probate litigation matters are outside of the courthouse - making the prosecution of these civil cases not dependent on the time of commute but more on the time and focus on the case's substantive matters.

The lawyers of Hackard Law serve clients in and out of The City. Hackard Law's vibrant Northern California estate, trust and probate litigation practice is not the type of practice that lends itself to small geographic limitations. A San Francisco resident might well be a beneficiary of a Sacramento or Santa Clara estate. An Alameda County resident might well have beneficial interests in a San Francisco apartment house and a Sonoma County ranch. Out of state clients seek the best law firm for the job - a goal not always easily satisfied by the simple calculus of radius from the local courthouse.

Whether you're in the City and County of San Francisco, its adjoining counties, anywhere in California or out of state, and you believe that you have beneficial interests in San Francisco property it is important to find out if that's where your estate, trust or probate case will be litigated.

In estate, trust and probate litigation, one of the key first steps of any case is to determine which county Superior Court is authorized to handle a contested estate matter. In the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, as in every other county in our state, estate litigation falls under defined limits of jurisdiction. By definition, jurisdiction is a court's power to hear and determine proceedings. Sometimes a court won't have the power to regulate an estate dispute, and that means we find out which court is authorized to handle your case.

When determining jurisdictional limits and judicial authority in estate trust and probate litigation matters, there are a number of factors to take into account. These factors may appear to be inapposite and they must be carefully reviewed. Here are just a few of them:

  • Geography
  • Citizenship
  • Location of estate assets and property
  • Location or domicile of the decedent
  • Location of Trustee
  • Place of trust administration
  • Reason for the dispute
  • Contractual venue clauses

The judges who oversee cases in California Superior Courts, whether probate or civil matters, like to be sure well beforehand that they are sitting in the right jurisdiction to oversee a case. Are they authorized to decide the outcomes of contested estate matters filed in their court, and to make decisions and issue orders as they see fit? Let's just imagine that an estate battle involves a property in Reno owned by a deceased Hawaiian whose beneficiaries live in Boise. It's a safe bet to say that's not going to be a case within the jurisdiction of San Francisco Superior Court.

Jurisdiction isn't always necessarily black-and-white. Who, for example, would hold jurisdiction over a trust if the trustee moves from California to Canada and then proceeds to administer the trust from Canada? These types of dilemmas occur more often than you might think.

A county branch of the California Superior Court - whether it be located in San Mateo, San Francisco, Alameda County, Solano County, or Sacramento, holds jurisdiction over the estate of a decedent if the following conditions are met:

  1. There has been an actual death;
  2. The decedent, at the time of his or her death (a) was domiciled in California (was living in California); or left property in California;
  3. Proper notice to the interested parties has been published.

When a decedent hadn't been domiciled in California, whether out-of-state or outside the country, at the time of his or her death, a California Superior Court won't have the jurisdiction necessary to appoint an estate representative - unless the decedent owned property in California. Let's imagine a decedent died in Atlanta, Georgia, but held real property in her name (not in the name of a trust) in San Francisco, then it might be necessary to file a San Francisco County probate case.

The California Probate Code provisions exclusive subject matter jurisdiction over a given trust's internal affairs. For their part, the trust's internal affairs are applicable to a wide range of activities. San Francisco County's Probate Court administers a large volume of probate and estate matters every year.

As the smallest county in California at 46 square miles, San Francisco County is situated on the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula with a population of approximately 850,000. San Francisco Superior Court's main branch is located at 400 McAllister St., San Francisco, California 94102.

Hackard Law's team of trust litigation attorneys work to protect the interests of clients and their estate assets in San Francisco City and County trust and estate litigation, including:

Administration of Estates and Trusts

Trustee's breach of fiduciary duty disputes and lawsuits

Interpretation of testamentary documents

Judicial modification of trusts

Lack of testamentary capacity

Preparation and analysis of trustee's accounting

Pursuing or preventing termination of trusts

Petitions for interpretation of trusts

Petitions for determination of heirs

Resignation or removal of trustees

Undue Influence Allegations

Validity of wills or codicils

Will Contests

Will forgery claims and cases

Upon receiving what appears to be a San Francisco related estate, trust or probate case, we always set out to first answer: Does the San Francisco County Superior Court possess the legal authority to oversee the matter at hand? If not the San Francisco County Superior Court, then which California court, if any, is the proper legal venue.

At Hackard Law we help our clients with cases that come under the jurisdiction of San Francisco County Superior Court and many other Superior Courts throughout California. If you have an issue related to estate and trust litigation or other California probate and will matters, feel free to call us today at (916) 313-3030.

Hackard Law

10630 Mather Blvd

Mather, California 95655