"And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand."  This scriptural passage (Mark 3:25) is the origin of Abraham Lincoln's 1858 "House Divided" speech, an iconic observation about our nation's deep divisions over the subject of slavery.
It is hard to find fault with the observation that divisions are kindling for fires of destruction or change. Hot-button issues - those triggering intense reactions - disrupt the status quo and by necessity cause division. While apathy and appeasement may be antidotes to division, such choices are hardly the mark of courage. Lincoln's defense of freedom over slavery highlighted the moral and political divisions then dividing the country and threatening a nation unlikely to endure "half slave, and half free." He didn't shy away from the stark reality that slavery had to be confronted.
Confronting wrong is uncomfortable. It is challenging at times to distinguish self-righteous indignation from a moral imperative - something that must happen because it is the right thing. The practice of law often involves the challenging of wrong. Different practitioners have different challenges. A personal injury lawyer's battles are different from those faced by antitrust or immigration lawyers. At Hackard Law, we focus on estate, trust, and elder financial abuse litigation. The battleground of such litigation is in California's Superior Court probate and civil divisions. And one of the most common objects of battle is unquestionably the family home - a perfect example of the lessons of the "house divided."
So how does the "house divided" intrude on the orderly administration of estates? There are many ways.
Family homes are places where elders "age in place" - where people want to remain for the later years of life. Such plans may be derailed by elder financial abuse. In a practice like ours, it is not uncommon that an elder's home is transferred to an outsider or even a child by way of undue influence. The common scenario includes the presence of a child wholly dependent on an elderly parent who unduly influences the parent to give everything to the child to the exclusion of his or her siblings. Once discovered - usually after the death of the elder - the battle over the family home begins. The battle is for the division of the house - a division that results in the home's ultimate sale. The undue influencer's efforts to secure all that a parent owns may boomerang and cause the wrongdoer to be completely excluded from the estate.
If you have a "house divided" case and you want to speak with us about it, call us at Hackard Law (916) 313-3030. We want to hear your story.