Five years ago California’s Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act became law. It has provided victims and their families a way to fight back against perpetrators of elder financial abuse in civil court. While the law is a tremendous first step, there is still much work to be done. Newly released data suggests that the reality of elder exploitation isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, the threat is growing.
Just this week, the Treasury Department announced that it had recorded a record-breaking 24,454 suspected cases of elder financial abuse, over twice the number from five years prior. Why is elder financial abuse becoming more common? California and the nation are in the midst of a major demographic shift. Everyday[...]
Imagine you’re out driving in an open area on a beautiful, clear day. You can see as far as the tree line on the horizon. Suddenly, off in the field to your right you spot someone in the distance – it’s an old man in tattered clothes. He’s limping slowly and looks to be in pain; he’s suffering. And then, in the sky above, you notice something extraordinary – there’s vultures circling, just like in the old cartoons we used to watch. Would you stop and help the old man? Maybe bring him some water and call for medical help? You wouldn’t let the vultures swoop down.
The scene I described might seem a bit dramatic, but a similar scenario plays out in our neighborhoods and communities all the time. The “vultures” are wrongd[...]
Sibling battles have been immortalized in fact, fiction, film – and unfortunately, in thousands of court dockets. It’s said that when the second child shows up on the family scene that the classic tug of war for parental attention begins. More siblings – more tug-of-wars, more shifting alliances and more life stories.
Siblings have a unique perspective of family members’ personalities – a perspective that at times may be frozen in adolescence and emotions that cannot be quelled even with adulthood. Siblings live their inextricably linked lives from birth to death. Siblings’ relationships at their best are grounded in a sense of humor, love, respect and forgiveness and at their worst unremitting resentment.
It’s an unfortunat[...]
Unless you’re from Santa Barbara, you may not know the name Huguette Clark. She was the reclusive heiress to a $300 million copper and railroad fortune amassed by her father, W.A. Clark, a former US Senator from Montana who also held the distinction of being the founder of the city of Las Vegas. When Clark died in 2011 at the age of 104, she created by will the Bellosguardo Foundation, whose purpose was to foster the arts by displaying her art collection at her massive $85 million, 23 ½ acre summer home in Santa Barbara.
Clark’s first Will was written when she was 98, and in that document, she left her estate to distant relatives and her private nurse. 42 days later, however, she signed a second Will that disinherited her family mem[...]
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 int[...]
Country music legend Glen Campbell, author of hits like Wichita Lineman and Rhinestone Cowboy, lived a long and fruitful 81 years. At the time of his passing away from Alzheimer’s disease in August of 2017, he would leave behind some 60 studio albums as well as eight children from four different marriages. With royalties included, his estate has been estimated to reach a scale of $50 million, seemingly more than enough for all beneficiaries.
There was just one problem, though – Campbell disinherited three of his eight children in his 13-page will from 2006. For reasons unknown to the public, the country star specifically excluded daughter Kelli Campbell and sons William and Wesley Campbell from any sort of inheritance. Campbell desig[...]
California heirs and beneficiaries expect that trustees, estate representatives and executors will act as good and prudent fiduciaries. When these fiduciaries fail and take money belonging to trust beneficiaries, they may be subject to civil and even criminal penalties.
There are several cases in point. A Sacramento woman was indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2018 for mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering (U.S. v. Stewart-Cabrera, United States District Court, E.D. California, Case No. 2:18-CR-0085 KJM). The woman, a professional fiduciary, served as the trustee of a trust that owned Sacramento property. The U.S. Attorney’s news release indicates that Loretta Darlene Stewart-Cabrera, the trustee, carried out a scheme in whi[...]
Conflicts between stepmothers and biological children over estate and trust assets have become a familiar feature of litigation in California superior courts. Only a certain proportion of these disputes make it to the legal arena, but they’re part of a continuing trend that’s worth noticing.
There’s plenty of reasons why you’ll keep hearing about estate fights between stepmothers and biological children, whether in the news or in your own community. To start with, research shows that one in six children in the United States is in a blended family situation. Biological children from a first marriage expect an eventual inheritance, the normal transfer of wealth from one generation to the next – almost a sense of entitlement. When t[...]