Do California licensed fiduciaries put you first?
They should. This is what the law says. This is what makers of trusts think when they name a stranger as the fiduciary of their trust.
But it doesn’t always work, does it? An example:
A multimillionaire, the father of two, is dying. He is in and out of the hospital. He is on heavy medications. He wants to set up a trust to benefit his only two children.
He meets with an estate planning attorney. The meetings are at his home. He hires the estate planner. The father tells the estate planner that he wants to take care of his children, both in their 50s.
The estate planner creates a HEMS trust – a trust designed to provide for the health, education, maintenance and welfare of his childr[...]
Trust litigation lawyers, by default, become frequent advocates for the protection of trust beneficiaries and the assertion of their clients’ rights. Ongoing complaints regarding the systemic overreach of banks, trust companies and California licensed professional fiduciaries acting as trustees are made at administrative levels and litigated, for the most part, at the probate court level.
The growing conservatorship reform movement is animated by the all too frequent financial exploitation, physical and emotional abuse visited upon our nation’s most vulnerable citizens by conservators and guardians. This reform movement is worthy of its growing public attention. There’s no dearth of stories and examples of abuse. There is a dearth of[...]
All of us have parts of our lives that are on “cruise control” – actions done with little reflection or consideration. We can make efforts to go beyond this.
Some Zen practitioners suggest a habit of daily reflection. The benefits –
It helps to learn from your mistakes;
It can give great ideas;
It helps you to help others;
It makes you happier; and
It gives you great perspective.
The Ignatian Daily Examen, an ancient practice, is designed to help us see God’s hand at work in our daily lives. St. Ignatius version is a five-step process:
Become aware of God’s presence;
Review the day with gratitude;
Pay attention to your emotions;
Choose one feature of the day and pray from it; and
Look forward to tomorrow.[...]
We often represent abused beneficiaries who are forced by trustee inaction to petition the probate court to order the trustee to account. The petition must follow the formalities set forth in the probate code.
Once the trustee accounts, the petitioner and their advisers will take a close look at the information provided. If the trustee fails to maintain accurate record, they are presumed to be in violation of their fiduciary duties.
The trustee has the duty to prove every item of their account by satisfactory evidence. Doubts from the failure of the trustee to keep records are resolved against the trustee. The trustee has the duty to support every item of the account.
How do these cases arise? I’ll start with noting that they arise wit[...]
Whether it’s nonchalance, contempt, self-interest or ignorance, delayed trust beneficiary distributions can be truly distressing. Timely trust distributions are welcome, but unfortunately trustees don’t always act in the best interests of beneficiaries.
Trust and estate litigation law firms, like Hackard Law, are often asked to step in – to enforce trust beneficiary rights against non-performing trustees. The situation is common – the excuses the same. Stories span the spectrum of trustee inaction.
One example is worth mentioning. Circumstances are changed to protect confidentiality.
A decedent’s son thinks that he is a trust beneficiary. His father died two years ago. His brother is the beneficiary of the trust. His brother wo[...]
California’s median home value in September 2019 is $548,000. Bay Area median home values are even higher. As an example:
Fremont - $1,176,000;
Newark - $872,000;
Santa Clara - $1,396,000;
San Mateo - $1,513,000;
San Francisco - $1,421,100;
Redwood City - $2,688,000.
We have litigated trust beneficiary disputes over homes located in every one of the referenced cities. Experience teaches us that trust disputes involving the rights of beneficiaries and heirs to Bay Area homes are common and hard-fought. There is a lot at stake.
Homes are a target for those intent on estate undue influence and fraud. And, wronged and abused beneficiaries are not likely to walk away from the huge losses occasioned by fraud or undue influence.
The median value for a house in California is currently $548,000. When it comes to median home values for Los Angeles, the figures keep climbing. Let’s look at LA and some specific neighborhoods where we’ve protected trust beneficiary rights in litigation battles focused on the family home.
If we start off in Los Angeles proper, homes there go for an average of $618,000. A house in Pacific Palisades goes for just over $3 million. In Santa Monica it’s north of $1.62 million. Over in Beverly Hills, the median is $3.46 million. And in Thousand Oaks, it’s a level $730,000.
In all the areas I’ve just mentioned, we’ve litigated and resolved trust disputes over houses in the best interests of a beneficiary who’s been disinherited a[...]
Life insurance beneficiary contests can be shocking. A loved one dies with a life insurance policy intact. Maybe you knew about the policy – maybe you didn’t. But one thing that you didn’t know about was the named beneficiary.
Or, if you are the named beneficiary, you didn’t expect a challenge to your position. We’ve represented clients on the many multiple sides of this equation.
So, let’s start with a typical set of circumstances – to the extent that there is a typical set of circumstances. Your father is 85 years old. He has a trust. He’s the trustee during his lifetime, and under its terms you become the trustee at his death.
You and your sister are the named equal beneficiaries of your father’s trust. You are the[...]