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[...]
The year 2018 has been a busy one for Hackard Law - we've been heavily engaged in California estate and trust battles on behalf of our clients, we continue to fight elder exploitation, and every week we respond to the inquiries of dozens of callers from across the state and the country. They contact us because they've seen our videos, they need help, and maybe they just to be pointed in the right direction.
You learn a lot by talking with lots of different people who come to you with similar stories of estate wrongdoing. You get to see common features across multiple cases, features that fit into fact patterns. This experience enabled me to write my first book, The Wolf at the Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse as a call to [...]
Walt Disney is one of the most celebrated and successful entrepreneurs of the 20th Century and a man whose vision continues to delight families around the world through his Disney Theme Parks and Movies. Disney himself was a scrappy and colorful animator, film producer, voice actor, and corporate leader who may have become more celebrated and appreciated since his death in 1966 than he was while he was alive.
Despite many setbacks during his career and big gambles on films and theme parks that could easily have gone the wrong way, Disney managed to leave behind a significant fortune, mostly in the form of Walt Disney company stock which some have estimated was worth $100 Million when he died.
Unfortunately for several of Disney’s gr[...]
You’ve probably heard that “It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.” Public opinion guru Dr. Frank Luntz is making a career from this truth – he explains that he is “testing language and find(ing) words that will help his clients” explain their products or public issues.
So, we now have a new word when talking about California trust law, issues, modifications and transfers. It’s a word that we might say, but not necessarily hear or understand. The word is “decanting.”
The word’s general usage is associated with wine – pouring wine from one bottle into a carafe to remove sediment and allow it to breathe. California now gives new meaning to the word in its recently enacted Uniform Trust Decanting Act.
A recent news story on a Bay Area trust dispute caught my attention – not necessarily over the legal details, but because of the general elements common to many cases of estate litigation. It has features we encounter all too frequently in our advocacy for beneficiaries: a successful family business, an ailing patriarch, his children from a prior marriage, and a stepmother. These are the ingredients for potential conflict.
Back in 1951, an enterprising young immigrant arrives in San Francisco with his wife and founds a corner bakery that proves a hit with the local neighborhood. As the founder advances in age, he hands his son responsibility for running the business. The family-run bakery becomes a fixture of the community landscape for [...]
When billionaire Douglas Tompkins, the co-founder of two major brands, North Face and Espirit, died in a kayak accident in Chile in December 2015, he left everything in his estate to his second wife, Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, as well as to foundations the couple created to preserve land in Chile and Argentina. His two daughters, including Summer Tompkins Walker, and his five grandchildren who live in the Bay Area, were all disinherited. This is yet another case of the widowed stepmother getting almost everything.
As we’ve seen over and over, in instances of blended families, especially when wealthy individuals re-marry and the father and stepmother become estranged from children of earlier marriages, inheritance problems invariably h[...]
The Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement (EAGLE) is now available online. The guide is a national web module designed to support enforcement officers in identifying, intervening, and resolving cases of elder abuse.”
“EAGLE funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Justice and was led by the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, host of the National Center on Elder Abuse.”
Given Hackard Law’s efforts in applying elder financial abuse law to civil wrongdoers, this video will pay general attention to EAGLE’s section on Financial Elder Abuse and specific attention to Recognizing Abusers.
EAGLE defines Financial Elder Abuse as “Using an older adult’s money or assets (pension, home, socia[...]