Every week at Hackard Law, we receive fifteen to twenty new calls from prospective estate, probate, and trust litigation and elder financial abuse clients, many of them from the Los Angeles area. This is a process that we both enjoy and learn from.
Given the volume of calls, it is important that we ask questions that get right to the heart of the matter. Our prospective LA clients often say that "I don't know where to start" and this is "really complex," when explaining a trust dispute or how someone took financial advantage of their elderly loved one. We've found that the best way to deal with this complexity is to break down voluminous facts into simple-to understand-categories. We use the "Five Ws" to simplify this process.
"The Five Ws ... are questions whose answers are considered basic in information gathering or problem solving." The five questions we ask when interviewing clients in Los Angeles trust, estate and elder financial abuse litigation matters are:
1. Who is the decedent or the victim of elder abuse? Who is the trustee? The elder abuser? The beneficiaries? The heirs?
2. What happened? What is it that caused the prospective client to call me? Is the concern over a parent? A wrongdoing sibling? A caretaker? Abuse of a power of attorney? Substitution of an untrustworthy trustee?
3. When did this happen? When was a trust made? When was the elder first abused? When were the elder's assets taken? When did the relative pass away? When was there a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's? When did the client receive notice of the trust?
4. Where did this happen? Where did the relative pass away? Where does the trustee live? Where does the wrongdoer live? Where are the decedent's assets? Where do the beneficiaries live? If an action is pending where is the action?
5. Why did this happen? Was the elder vulnerable? Why was the wrongdoer able to get close to the elder? Why is the wrongdoer impaired - if he or she is impaired? Why is a copy of the trust or will missing?
If you have a Los Angeles-area estate or probate litigation matter, a trust lawsuit, or a case of elder financial abuse and you want to see if you have a litigation option, call us at Hackard Law: (213) 357-5200. Our attorneys regularly protect client interests at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse and at other venues throughout LA. We'll talk about the "Five Ws" and how we might go about helping you.