Communities across California overwhelmingly support programs to prevent financial elder abuse and to punish those responsible for this offense. California law provides clear civil and criminal remedies to enforce the rule that elder financial abusers must be held accountable for all the harms and losses that they cause. In estate, trust and probate litigation, that means that predators can be made to pay for their wrongdoing in civil court.
Prosecutors enforce criminal elder abuse laws against abusers committing estate theft, embezzlement, forgery or fraud against an elder (a person 65 years and older). The estate and trust litigation attorneys at Hackard Law enforce civil statutes holding elder abusers financially responsible for assis[...]
Family fights over a mother or father's estate are painful ordeals - even among the well-intentioned. Such fights open old wounds and inflict new ones. The pain of a parent's passing is often amplified by the growing knowledge of another family member's wrongdoing. Residents of Sacramento face these inheritance battles as much as anyone else, and they deserve the best representation from experienced estate, trust and probate litigators.
Wrongdoing might first be detected after a parent's death. Questionable bank account statements, changes to deeds and the silence or obfuscation of the wrongdoer are the common benchmarks of estate wrongdoing. New cars, expensive vacations and new boats are the occasional signs of a bad actor's newfound w[...]
Does your entire estate - property, funds and all - automatically go into probate in the State of California? Despite some popular misconceptions, that's not actually the case. The California probate process does not encompass all of the assets owned by a decedent prior to his or her death. Asset ownership, whether done with long-term estate planning or by happenstance, will determine whether assets are subject to the probate process.
There are various legal forms of ownership within an estate or trust, and these different types of vehicles for securing estate assets help to regulate what will fall under probate and what will stay immune to those proceedings. Let's take a look at the several exceptions to the California probate rule:
One all-too-common occurrence in estate, probate and trust litigation disputes is the exercise of undue influence by an interested party upon an elder. In cases like these, the estate and assets of the elder might seem "up for grabs" to an unscrupulous child, grandchild, or another third party.
Elder financial abuse reveals itself through specific patterns and behaviors, and we can usually track a wrongdoer's steps toward gaining control of an estate. They'll employ all sorts of tricks and techniques to get their way: frequent visits, blandishments, and gifts (emotional manipulation) as well as isolation, outright intimidation, and even physical abuse. Through these methods, undue influencers can maneuver themselves into legal position f[...]
Providing an objective assessment for the frequency of stepmother-step-children probate and trust battles is elusive - but to ignore it is to live in another world. For us the anecdotal evidence is in. Case by case - Will Contests, Trust Contests, Life Estate challenges, Probate Objections, Deed Revocations or Joint Tenancy quarrels -- the interests and paths of stepmothers and stepchildren often collide. In California, these collisions of interests play themselves out in the probate and civil divisions of our state's Superior Courts.
Anyone living in the real world wouldn't be surprised by research showing that only about 20% of adult stepchildren feel close to their stepmoms. Moreover, studies show abundant evidence that stepmothers and [...]
Our team of attorneys at Hackard Law serves trustees and beneficiaries in trust and probate litigation cases, including accountings, trustee removal and surcharge petitions, elder financial abuse, fraud, concealment and conversion actions in California Probate Courts.
The process of representation is initiated by a preliminary review of our prospective client's case. A part of this review is securing an understanding of the terms of the decedent's trust (including all amendments), identifying the property and cash inflows and outflows from the trust, and scrutinizing end of life inter vivos and testamentary gifts to new friends, suddenly interested family members and/or care custodians.
We are regularly asked to review cases rife with[...]
A Los Angeles, San Francisco, East Bay or Sacramento trustee of a trust is often confronted by claims or lawsuits from the creditors of one or more of the trust beneficiaries. These lawsuits often include petitions under Code of Civil Procedure Section 709.010 to enforce a judgment against a trust beneficiary. California law provides certain safe harbors that can be a complete or partial firewall to the claims, even if the claims have validity.
Trust spendthrift provisions – transfer restrictions on distribution of income or principal to a named beneficiary - create these creditor firewalls. Such restrictions may limit the payment of income or principal for education or support.
The desire of a settlor (trustor or maker) to include [...]
We are sometimes asked “what happens to the funds in my 401(k) if I die without a will?” Will the named beneficiary of my 401(k) have difficulty in securing the proceeds of my 401(k)?
Let’s start with who is the beneficiary of a 401(k). Federal law mandates that if you are married, your spouse is automatically the beneficiary of your 401(k) or other pension plan. If you want to have someone other than your spouse the named beneficiary then your spouse must sign a waiver.
Such waivers generally include the following factors:
Identification as the spouse of the 401(k) participant.
Consent to the participating spouse’s designation of beneficiaries.
Acknowledgement that the participating spouse’s designation of any other bene[...]