Imagine: Your mother is an 86-year-old widow. Your father passed away ten years ago. You have three siblings - two brothers and a sister. You're all now in your 50s.
Your mother lives in the San Mateo family home. You live in Orinda. Your two brothers live in Santa Clara County. Your sister, age 56, lives with your mother.
You and your brothers are college graduates. You're a psychologist. One brother is a city planner and the other a rocket engineer. Your sister who lives with your mother does not have a job. She has been on some type of disability since her mid-40s. She's worked about one year total since she finished high school.
She never went to college. In one way or another, she has lived off your parents her entire adult life.
She is a substance abuser and an alcoholic. She pled guilty to a DUI several years ago. She has never been married.
She vocally abused your father when he was alive and she's abusive to your mother. You and your siblings have been troubled by your sister's actions for most of your lives. A few years ago, your sister began to restrict telephone and visitation access to your mother.
The few times that you were able to visit your mother, your sister sat in on the meetings and glared at your mother. Your mother looked intimidated. Your brothers have had the same visitation difficulties.
Your mother's short-term memory is poor. She often will wonder aloud where your father is. She thinks that he might be having an affair. He, of course, has been dead ten years. She calls you and your brothers by the wrong names. She didn't recognize her grandchildren when they visited her on Mother's Day in 2018.
You recently learned that your mother died. You learned this from a neighbor one week after your mother passed away. Your sister had your mother cremated.
You know that your mother desired Christian services and burial. She did not want to be cremated. There were no services for your mother. Your sister won't disclose the location of your mother's ashes.
You recently received a "Notification by Trustee Under Probate Code Section 16061.7" informing you that your mother's trust became irrevocable on your mother's March 2019 death. The trust was executed on January 25, 2019. The named trustee is your sister.
You also received a copy of the January 2019 trust. The trust identifies your sister as the beneficiary of your mother's San Mateo house, Walnut Creek apartments and Sonoma ranch. Your sister is also to receive all of your mother's securities and cash accounts. You and your brothers are to each receive $5000.
You've tried to contact your sister. She won't return calls. Your sister's lawyer won't talk with you or your brothers. Is it time to fight?
You come to see us at Hackard Law. Choosing to fight a beneficiary disinheritance battle is up to the beneficiary. Some will choose to leave the battle to others. Some battles will never be fought. And, some will.
You will consider whether this is a just cause. You have enough information to know that your mother and father always expressed their desire to split their estate equally between you four siblings.
You know that your mother was isolated. You know that no matter what you did you could not break through that isolation.
You know that your sister has been addicted to opiates. You know that she uses alcohol to excess.
You know that her friends are like her - nonworking and living off the income of others.
You know that from everything that you knew and saw about your mother for at least 3 or 4 years before she died that she probably didn't have capacity to make a trust. You know that your sister unduly influenced your mother.
As causes go - your cause is righteous. You don't know the technicalities of your legal case. That should be up to your lawyers.
You don't know how you're going to pay for this case. You've got to talk to your lawyers. You know that you need to have your attorney's fees options explained. There are both statutory and ethical rules regarding attorney's fees.
In any event, if what happened to you makes your feel that "sometimes you've got to fight," call us at Hackard Law: 916 313-3030.
We'll talk about your fight. We'll talk about your options and about what choices you can make. We'll talk about where and how beneficiary disinheritance cases are fought.
Hackard Law takes substantial cases where we believe that we can make a significant difference and there is a wrongdoer who can be made financially accountable for his or her wrongdoing.
We litigate cases in most of California's major urban counties - north and south. Bay area venues include Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Sonoma Counties. We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.