If you’re a trust beneficiary in California, you need to know your rights. As a trust beneficiary, you’re entitled to receive a regular distribution from funds designated to you under the rules of the trust. The trustee, the person who is in charge of administering that trust, has a legal duty toward you, the beneficiary. The trustee has the responsibility to inform you of the status of the trust and ensure that you receive your full share of distributions from a trust on time and in the right amount. Above all, a trustee is called to be fair and ethical in managing trust assets.
When a trustee isn’t fair to beneficiaries, that means beneficiaries are being abused. For protection from further abuse and in order to get rightful dist[...]
We’re in the first days of a Sacramento summer. It’s hot – it’s always hot. Summertime is a time for family – for vacations – and for memories. Speaking of memories – it’s been 50 years – 50 years since the summer of 1966. That summer – its music and its cars was a big summer for baby boomers. Let’s look back.
The songs of 1966 evoke rich memories of our adolescence. We had transistor radios that seemed to accompany us everywhere. New songs got our attention – and if we liked them we wanted to hear them again on the radio. There were only a few rock stations in Sacramento – KROY and KXOA – and while we might have had particular loyalties to one station or another such loyalties didn’t prevent us from scannin[...]
Elder financial abuse cases often involve some issues that rightly rest with consideration and adjudication in California probate courts. Other issues concerning exploitation of our senior citizens, meanwhile, should be tried by a jury in the civil division of the Superior Court.
US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts tells us that the jury is "vital in promoting justice" based on "common sense and judgment of the people drawn from the community."
As California probate attorneys often engaged in litigation, we find that our clients desire to tell their story of elder financial abuse to a jury drawn from the community - from their peers. This wish frequently outweighs the desire to have a single source of judgment - a trial judge.[...]
Are you about to challenge or contest a trust in a Superior Court in California? Whether you are filing in Sacramento, Los Angeles, Alameda, Santa Clara or Orange, then you should consider your battle plan. Have you retained a California trust attorney and opened the case? Before you get started, here are five things that you might consider.
Statutes of Limitation.If a beneficiary receives a trustee notice, they may have as little as 120 days in California on filing certain kinds of claims against a will or trust (CA Probate Code 16061.7). California courts do not favor those who delay. If you can “smell the coffee” and see that something is wrong, you may want to engage a lawyer and start making an effort at securing your rights.
At Hackard Law, our work is representing clients in estate and probate litigation here in Northern California – from Sacramento to the foothills of Placer and El Dorado, and from the Central Valley to the Bay. I’ve seen a lot in my 40 years as a lawyer – from great victories for clients to a few very dysfunctional situations where basic mistakes led to an unfavorable outcome. Whatever the area of life, it’s best to treat mistakes and failure as a learning opportunity: how can you do better next time? So let’s look at the basic mistakes of estate and probate litigation:
No Plan. The old saying is true here – if you fail to plan you plan to fail. The death of a loved one brings grief and in some cases chaos. Who has the Will? W[...]
It’s 2016. It’s been 22 years since DNA technology captured the world’s attention in the O.J. Simpson murder case. The death of Prince and the possibility that he died without a will or trust is capturing world attention in an entirely different way. People are coming forward claiming that Prince is their father and they want a DNA test to prove it.
A Minnesota judge has authorized the release and analysis of Prince’s blood to the DNA Diagnostic Center for testing. Just what could this mean? While Minnesota law allows for blood and genetic tests it also has a statutory scheme that address the determination of the father and child relationship in cases where the alleged father has died. If and when a genetic match is made betwee[...]
People with probate, estate and trust disputes often ask us to discuss how a contingency fee arrangement might work in their cases.
I first note that California has both statutory and ethical rules that govern attorney-client fee arrangements. All of our attorney-client fee agreements must conform to these statutory and ethical requirements.
The nature of a contingency fee is that the client pays fees to a lawyer only if the lawyer handles the case successfully. This arrangement only works where money or valuable assets are being claimed.
In an estate-related contingency fee arrangement, the attorney agrees to accept a fixed percentage (often 40%) of the total recovery. If the case is won or resolved, the lawyer’s fee comes out o[...]
Ronald Reagan, when asked about his strategy against the Soviet Union in the Cold War answered simply: “We win, they lose.”
The simplicity of this strategy struck the talking heads of the time as unsophisticated – even childish. Looking back at its brilliance, we see how it set a tone – a focal point – a direction for all to follow. The same simple principle holds true for litigation in estate & trust matters.
Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” When it comes to estate, trust and probate litigation, attitude does make a big difference. Over my forty years of practice, I’ve seen lawyers who consistently expected to win – and their work, perseverance and creativity allo[...]