"The closer your destination, the more you're slip sliding away." Simon & Garfunkel recorded "Slip Sliding Away" 40 years ago, a song rich in lyrics readily applied to common human experiences. So here's an application to family fortunes in litigated disputes. Given our law firm's focus on California trust, estate and elder financial abuse litigation, I've got a ready vista into the drama and disintegration of family fortunes caused by estate-related wrongdoing.
Now let me start with the obvious. Not all family fortunes are devastated by estate disputes. But some are, and for those that are, the price of contention can be high. There's an old saying which I first heard in Texas that seems to apply to a lot of trust disputes that I see: "Pigs Get Fat. Hogs Get Slaughtered." The essence of this is that greed turns on the greedy. Unfortunately in estate litigation, the greed of a sibling, a stepparent, or a related or unrelated wrongdoer may dramatically reduce a family fortune. Challenges to elder financial abuse and estate provisions created by undue influence have costs for the challengers as well as the defenders.
These costs can effectively "burn the house down" - in other words destroy that which could have been divided and saved through a reasonable settlement.
So human nature does take its course. That said, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, we work to act "by the better angels of our nature" to resolve disputes without destroying all that is disputed.
I have to say that in a number of cases that we are currently litigating, it doesn't seem like "the better angels of our nature" have a seat at the table. In any event, it is necessary that some cases are carried to a judge or jury trial. A judge in probate court or a jury in a civil trial will decide who receives a family fortune, or maybe who is disqualified from receiving the fortune because of his or her wrongdoing.
So if you have a family fortune that just may be slip slidin' away and you would like to see if there is a better way to prevent loss and protect trust assets, call us at Hackard Law: 916 313-3030. We represent wronged beneficiaries throughout California, including in Sacramento, Los Angeles, Santa Clara, Alameda, and San Diego. We'll be happy to speak with you about your situation.