At Hackard Law we spend the majority of our time litigating estate, trust and probate disputes. In some ways we have "the catbird seat" - we see and represent clients in a wide variety of estate disputes throughout California. We are privileged to negotiate, litigate and mediate with some of the state's great estate lawyers. We work hard to protect our clients' interests.
Following are some of the basics:
1. The Parties.
Estate and probate cases filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court generally involve an executor (where there is a will), and administrator (where there is no will), heirs (both inherited and disinherited) and creditors.
Trust cases: Whether filed in the probate court or administered without judicial supervision involve a trustor (settlor) or maker of the trust, the trustee or successor trustee who takes legal title to trust assets, and beneficiaries who have equitable beneficial interests in the trust assets.
Financial elder abuse cases filed in the Civil Division of the Superior Court have a plaintiff (the person who brings the case) and the defendant (the person accused of wrongdoing and defending the case).
2. Attorneys Fees.
Executors and administrators are paid statutory fees for their duties. Trustees earn reasonable fees - an amount depending on the circumstances and what is acceptable in the particular geographic area. Challengers to estates, wills and trusts generally pay hourly fees, reduced hourly fees with a smaller contingency fees or straight contingency fees.
Cases may be mediated or settled without court filings. When experienced lawyers are involved this option may be viable. Experienced lawyers know what the litigation process involves and its likely outcome.
Litigated cases are filed in either the probate or civil division of the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Discovery ensues. Discovery may involve depositions, document production and interrogatories.
Many courts have mandatory settlement conferences as a precondition to trial. Other courts strongly encourage mediation. Again, experienced litigators know this and inform their clients that most cases are settled without their clients actually having to go to trial.
The probate and civil procedure codes impose a number of time constraints. Those that sit on their rights might well lose their rights. When it comes to estate, trust and probate disputes, early intervention is often preferable to delayed objections.
At Hackard Law, we're happy to talk about your Los Angeles-area case. Call us at (916) 313-3030, and we'll talk to you about the basic considerations for you to consider in moving forward.