“Go big or go home” is now a part of our language. It’s spread from Southern California into the national lexicon. Its general meaning is to go all out – be bold. It fits with California trust litigation.
Trust beneficiaries and disinherited heirs litigate over trusts and estates for a variety of reasons – most of them having to do with elder financial abuse, undue influence or trustee wrongdoing. Engaging in a trust and estate fight is not for the faint hearted. Challenged trustees, elder financial abusers and undue influencers do not easily give up their gains. I’ve never seen a drafting lawyer admit that the settlor (maker of the trust) or testator (maker of the will) lacked capacity or was unduly influenced. There is little surprise in this. In the same way I’ve never heard a defense lawyer tell me that he was confident that I would prove the decedent lacked capacity or was unduly influenced.
So, when it gets to contested trust and estate litigation you either “go big or go home.” There are really no effective half measures. Defense lawyers act like defense lawyers. Some don’t give an inch until the “handwriting is on the wall” and in neon lights. So how do people afford “go big or go home” trust litigation? There are really three ways – straight hourly fees, hybrid hourly fees and contingency fees. Most people ask Hackard Law for a contingency fee arrangement.
California has both statutory and ethical rules that govern attorney-client fee arrangements. All Hackard Law attorney-client fee agreements must conform to these statutory and ethical requirements. Contingency fees are arrangements where the client pays fees to a lawyer only if the lawyer handles the case successfully. This arrangement only works economically where money or valuable assets are being claimed.
In trust and estate related contingency fee arrangements, 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 of the recovery. If the case is lost, neither the client nor the lawyer get any money, and the client will not be required to pay the lawyer for the work that was done on the case.
Costs are an important part of the attorney-client fee arrangement. Many times clients will advance costs, like filing fees, deposition fees and expert fees. This is a matter of contract between the attorney and client.
Clients are often overwhelmed with the obstacles of retaining an attorney to recover inheritance or trust beneficiary assets. Contingency fees may be an efficient and effective step to overcoming these obstacles and allow for the civil prosecution of trusts and will contests.
Prosecuting and winning disputed trust and estate litigation cases requires forward thinking, innovation and creativity. Experience counts in providing the foundation for an efficient and effective litigation strategy and process.
So if you have the kind of California trust or estate case that requires a “go big or go home” approach, whether in Los Angeles, Sacramento, or the Bay Area, call us at Hackard Law. We’re happy to discuss your case with you.