I love my job. That's a good thing. There's an older Johns Hopkins study with a finding that lawyers were nearly 4 times as likely as non-lawyers to suffer from depression. That's really not a good statistic, and I hope that my colleagues with depression find assistance.
I think that one of the things I like about my job is hearing stories. We humans like stories. Oral tradition is an ancient part of our heritage. Most of us can remember sitting at our parent's or grandparent's knee listening to a story. It's not unusual that we ask to hear the same story over and over again. My two-year-old grandson certainly fits that mold.
So, my initial role in estate and trust litigation is to draw out a story. The call comes in. I listen. Our prospective clients might be classic storytellers, more likely not. The stories often start convoluted - I need to refocus the conversation. I ask the questions. Now tell me who you are? How are you related to the decedent? When did the decedent die? Where did she die? Did she have a will? A trust? Were they changed? If so, when? What was the decedent's health at the time of the making of the will or trust? Who benefitted from the changes? Who is the executor? The trustee? Were properties transferred by the decedent prior to death? When? Where? How much?
Lots of questions. We go on. Do you have a copy of the will or trust? Is someone hiding it from you? Do you know the nature and amount of the estate or trust assets? If you think that there was wrongdoing, who was the wrongdoer? Do you know why the wrongdoer would do wrong?
Do other members of your family feel the same way that you do? Tell me more about the wrongdoer? Addicted? Jobless? Criminal past? Major changes in spending habits?
Well one question leads to another. You get the idea. Estate and trust litigation is often rich in facts and family history. All of this goes into my early consideration of a potential case. We only take a small percentage of the cases that we hear about. This is a reality of time management - there are only so many cases in so many places that we can effectively litigate.
I hear hundreds of stories every year about estate, trust and elder financial abuse disputes in California. We represent clients in most of California's major urban areas including Los Angeles, Orange County, Alameda County, Santa Clara County and Sacramento County. If you want to share your story and see if we can help you call us at 916 313-3030.