At times I think that we at Hackard Law have a bird's-eye view of California trust litigation. Our perspective is gained from both the cases that we take and don't take.
Our communications with clients and potential clients are, of course, privileged. That said, given our law firm's high volume of calls and emails regarding trusts, estates and elder financial abuse we have a take on what issues are commonplace and what issues are rare.
A commonplace California trust issue is the failure of a trustee administering a decedent's trust to sell the family home and distribute the proceeds to the named beneficiaries. This comes about for a variety of reasons - among them sheer procrastination, confusion as to duties, mistaken trust interpretation, and conflict of interest.
So, let's start with procrastination. Some trustees just won't "get off the dime" - so to speak. They miss disclosure and notice deadlines. They fail to separate accounts and secure employer identification numbers. They keep beneficiaries in the dark. The list, of course, can go on and on.
Confusion as to duties is fairly common. The trustee is not confident in his or her duties. This lack of confidence shows in the inability to make decisions and to stand by them. Some trustees think that whoever was living in the family residence at the time of the decedent's death should continue to live there. Other trustees want to evict the residents immediately after the death. Still others waive rent while others demand exorbitant rent. Confusion may reign.
Mistaken trust interpretations are another variable. There can be mistakes as to when the house needs to be sold, how the personal property in the house is to be distributed, or whether beneficiaries need to consent to the sale of the house.
And finally - conflict of interest in the sale of the family home is fairly common. When the trustee or the trustee's favorite sibling is a resident in the home the trustee may simply ignore their duty to collect rents and to ready the home for sale. This is such a regular occurrence that I really felt the need to do this video - if for no other reason than to let beneficiaries faced with a delayed or nonexistent sale of a family residence know that they are not alone.
Hackard Law takes substantial cases where we think that we can make a significant difference and there is a wrongdoer who can be made financially accountable for their wrongdoing. We represent clients in most of California's major urban areas including San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda, Los Angeles and Sacramento. If you would like us to hear your story and consider your case, call us at 916 313-3030.