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Estate Litigation in California | Strategy & Tactics

Litigation Strategy | California Estate and Trust Lawsuits

Estate litigation in California is complex. These kinds of lawsuits demand long-term strategy complemented by flexible tactics. Hackard Law's estate and probate litigation attorneys address this complexity at two main levels: the systematic "big picture" and moment-to-moment response. General Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke from experience: "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."

Estate disputes come about in different ways. Elder financial abuse is common, as is undue influence exercised on vulnerable elders by wrongdoers. Trustee misconduct is also not unusual - and neither is the misconduct of beneficiaries who secured their beneficial status by wrongdoing. We find that sometimes an early negotiated approach might work, but when it doesn't, Theodore Roosevelt's advice in dealing with adversaries should be applied: "Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft!"

Extensive estate and trust litigation experience provides a key advantage. This "in-the-ring" experience teaches us that an overall estate litigation plan is necessary, but success is dependent on the ability to act flexibly through moment-to-moment decisions. Probate and trust lawsuits are as different as the tactics employed to win them. More often than not, we find estate wrongdoers to be smug and initially secure that they have covered their wrongdoing. Our aggressive effort to hold estate wrongdoers accountable can turn the adversary's early smugness into later concession.

Estate and trust fights will sometimes be litigated in more than one court. While probate court decisions are made by judges, civil court decisions can be made by juries. Probate court decisions are often summary in nature without live sworn testimony, while civil courts usually have a longer discovery process, often ultimately leading to a jury trial. Complex cases may be at a disadvantage in a shortened summary proceeding - deciphering financial records may take far more time than probate proceedings sometimes allow.

When we first "take stock of the terrain" in an estate dispute, we ask our client a series of questions. These questions, and the answers to them, help us to determine an initial strategy - a strategy that may framed by the necessity of real-time actions to protect our clients and impose accountability on wrongdoers.

Hackard Law is dedicated to safeguarding clients and their families in California estate and trust litigation. We work throughout the state - including in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Alameda and San Diego. Call us today at 916-313-3030 to see how we can help you.

A Leading Trust & Estate Litigator Talks Strategy | Hackard Law from Hackard Law on Vimeo.

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