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[...]
It’s not easy to be a trustee – for a lot of reasons. Some particularly challenging aspects of the job involve trust beneficiary distribution decisions – decisions inherent to trust administration.
Trust settlors often express concern that their beneficiaries may request and/or spend inordinate amounts of money in ways that they, the settlor, if alive, might disapprove. Trustees are empowered to hold and distribute funds for the benefit of beneficiaries. This is a responsibility that can be challenging. Emotions may run high.
Third-party trustees are often viewed as interlopers by family trust beneficiaries. It’s one thing to have a parent or grandparent as a trustee, and quite another to have an out of state or in state bank,[...]
Life insurance beneficiary challenges occur with some regularity in California’s Superior Courts.
Timeliness is critical in contesting a life insurance beneficiary designation or life insurance beneficiary claim. If the life insurance payout is timely disputed life insurance companies will place the payout in a trust held by the Superior Court.
This is done in California by the way of the insurance company filing a complaint for declaratory relief and for interpleader. The complaint will name the parties who claim rights to the policy. The complaint will acknowledge that the life insurance company is liable for payment on a life insurance policy. The complaint will identify how the company has received communications from competing pa[...]
Atherton, our nation’s most expensive ZIP code, is in the heart of the California Bay Area. Atherton’s median price for a single-family home in the first half of 2019 was $8.1 million. Real estate agents and brokers who handle these sales have plenty of reason to celebrate when an escrow closes. While Atherton house values are setting records the rest of the Bay Area housing market also have significant values. Median home prices for June, 2019 were $1,549,000 (San Mateo), $1,250,000 (Santa Clara), $926,000 (Alameda), and $665,000 (Contra Costa). When it comes to estate and trust transfers these high house values have significant repercussions.
California homeowners are getting older and wealthier as the value of their homes has increa[...]