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[...]
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. This is part three of our “What If” series.
Each series has a number of questions – or "what ifs" – common to estate and trust litigation. Here are a few more.
What if family members and friends want to petition the court to obtain an anti-isolation restraining order against someone who is repeatedly preventing contact with an elder or dependent adult?
What if an agent under a financial power of attorney exploits an elder by using fraudulent, illegal, unauthorized, or improper acts that use the elder’s resources for the agent’s monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain?
What if property acquired by a married person during the marriage is titled only in the name of the other [...]
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. Recently we’ve spent some time addressing the common and maybe not so common what-if-scenarios that are part of the mosaic of estate and trust litigation.
So, let’s continue with our What If series – Part Two.
What if a person meddles with and assumes the management of trust property even if she is not the duly appointed trustee?
What if one without authority undertakes to administer entrusted property and incurs losses?
What if a document preparer prepares a trust that was never reviewed by an attorney?
What if a trustee who is also a beneficiary puts his interests above the other trust beneficiaries?
What if a trustee refuses to give beneficiaries, upon request, complete and a[...]
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. Do you ever ask yourself about a particular situation, “What if things had gone differently?”
Strategists regularly use what-if-scenarios to ponder alternative results to wars and military campaigns. They can be used as a tool to better understand history. They can also be used to question long-held assumptions.
While we are not historians, we use our own what-if-scenarios in litigation. We maintain a heavy California caseload focused on estate and trust disputes. Each case has different facts, different jurisdictions, and different law.
Winston Churchill said that “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” We make it a point to learn from history. And, if possible,[...]
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. We often represent beneficiaries in actions to compel distribution of trust assets.
The beneficiaries are usually family members. The trustee, the adverse party, is frequently a family member as well. The settlor, the maker of the trust, is normally a parent.
These cases rise from the failure of the trustee to distribute trust assets in a timely manner. Typical trust provisions require the trustee to terminate the trust upon the death of the settlor and distribute the assets outright and free of trust to the settlor’s beneficiaries – often the settlor’s children.
So, what happens? An example.
The settlor, the mother of three adult children, dies in 2016. The settlor’s son is named the[...]
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. We litigate California trust and estate real-life dramas. At their best, they embody tense conflict followed by resolution.
Anecdotes about real people or incidents can teach more than volumes of facts and figures. These stories are about trustees who drop the ball, fumble funds, and louse up trustee reporting and beneficiary distributions.
It starts with a trusting and caring parent who names the loved ones they want to receive their estate or trust possessions. They hope that they’ve named a trustworthy estate or trust representative to fulfill their intent.
And, in the great majority of cases these designated fiduciaries prove to be trustworthy. We litigate the exceptions to the rule.