I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. We represent estate heirs, trust beneficiaries, and victims of financial elder abuse in most of California’s largest urban areas.
We’ve found that undue influence on makers of estates and trusts generates an inordinate number of estate challenges. Undue influence is sometimes referred to as over persuasive influence. It has many elements and can be scrutinized from many angles.
Today, I’m going to use an appellate case (Keithley v. Civil Service Bd.) to focus on what constitutes undue susceptibility to over persuasive influence. I’ll make some comments as to each point and reference situations that I’ve seen to shine some light on the point.
“[U]ndue susceptibility to ... over pers[...]
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. We represent wronged heirs and beneficiaries of estates and trusts in California’s largest urban courts.
I first represented clients in a probate proceeding over four decades ago. I’ve long believed our probate courts have difficulty in fully addressing the wrongdoing caused by thieves of estate and trust assets.
Remedies are limited while the wrongdoings are limitless.
The California Legislature has gradually expanded remedies for estate wrongdoing. Elders and dependent adults now have more protection against financial elder abusers.
Still, taking action can be expensive, time intensive, and even impacted by secret wrongdoing. Litigators for aggrieved heirs and beneficiaries seek new way[...]
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. It’s early summer and all the things that summer is known for are underway. Swimming, travel, weddings, outdoor parties, and for some - summer school.
While summer brings family enjoyment, our attention to work issues goes on. Our work summer of ’23 has its own special challenges and rewards. Among them: Retention of high-level experts in science, financial forensics, medicine, and digital crime to assist in preparation of several high-damages fiduciary abuse cases that we’re currently handling.
Our practice continues to thrive in both Southern and Northern California contingency fee estate and trust litigation matters. The common failings that bring fiduciary challenges haven’t gone away.
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. We often represent trust beneficiaries against trustees who have failed to distribute assets.
This is a commonplace and ordinary event. While commonplace, it raises red flags. And it might be a betrayal of trust.
Failing to distribute hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions of dollars, to vested beneficiaries is not trivial. Trustee’s responses to requested distributions can be unsettling – full of unanswered questions.
Beneficiaries may wonder whether the intransigent trustee is mistaken or intentionally lying.
For some trustees, the crisis is of their own making. Inexperience, incompetence, and unaccountability may give false comfort that there is little downside to their failur[...]
I’m Mike Hackard of Hackard Law. Our law firm represents domestic and foreign trust beneficiaries facing California contentious trusts and probate matters.
We litigate in California’s largest urban areas, including Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Sacramento.
Contingency fees are our preferred fee arrangements. If we don’t succeed in trial or settlement, we don’t get paid. All agreements must conform to California law and disclosures.
Our decades-long experience helps steer aggrieved beneficiaries through the rocky waters of trust litigation. Emotional intelligence, coupled with the technical skills, helps to handle large and difficult cases.
Many California Courts have massive case backlogs brought on by cou[...]
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. Our California law firm uniquely focuses on contingency fee trust and estate litigation.
These cases are ultimately about money. Most estates are funded with houses, securities and bank accounts. Contingency fees can be crafted that apply to the recovery of hard assets as well as more liquid assets.
Just what are contingency fees? The California Bar defines them in this manner: “Contingency fees mean you will pay the lawyer a certain percentage of the money you receive if you win the case or settle the matter out of court. If you lose your case, the lawyer does not receive any payment from you.”
Contingency fees are different than hourly fees. Hourly fees vary among lawyers and places of pra[...]
I'm Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. We regularly represent wronged trust beneficiaries. There are many ways that beneficiaries are wronged.
One wrong occurs when a trustee improperly secures a beneficiary’s consent to a trustee’s act or omission to act.
California law provides that the trustee can be liable for a breach of trust, despite the consent, in the following circumstances:
(1) Where the beneficiary was under an incapacity at the time of the consent or of the act or omission.
(2) Where the beneficiary at the time consent was given did not know of his or her rights and of the material facts (A) that the trustee knew or should have known and (B) that the trustee did not reasonably believe that the benefici[...]
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. We represent beneficiaries in trust and estate litigation throughout California.
Everyday we speak with people who are up against unfamiliar and difficult circumstances: trustee failure to distribute, a relative has wrongfully taken the family home, or cases of elder financial abuse. Every person has a unique story, and there follows a natural question: “Do I have a case?”
Making that determination can take some time. Once I sketch out the nature of the conflict, here are some basic questions I’ll go over:
First off, location. Where did the decedent pass away? And where does the trustee reside? We litigate estates and trusts in California, so these facts will be important.
Next, we esta[...]
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. We serve wrongfully disinherited heirs and beneficiaries in California’s largest urban areas.
We do “Big City Law” – “Without the Big City.”
The rise of zoom for court appearances has made our statewide practice easier. For the most part we can attend court hearings around the state from our Northern California law offices. It’s possible for us to zoom into a morning hearing in Los Angeles and an afternoon hearing in San Mateo, Oakland, or Sacramento.
Up to 99% of California civilly litigated matters resolve without trial. Best resolutions come in cases where the opponent knows we’re prepared to vigorously try the case if mediations or court settlement conferences don’t work.
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. This is part four of our What if series.
We’ve posed a number of questions in each part of the series – or what ifs – common to estate and trust litigation. Here are a few more unusual ones.
What if trust beneficiaries know of questionable estate planning changes while the maker of the trust is alive, and they don’t try to challenge them?
What if a trustee is trying to profit from his own wrongdoing?
What if the decedent’s will doesn’t include a child who was born or adopted after the signing of the decedent’s testamentary instrument?
What if trustees do not have clear and accurate records for the time that they served as trustees of a trust?
What if a person i[...]