I’m Mike Hackard. I represented my first clients in estate litigation 45 years ago. Many things have changed over the years. Among them – the emergence, power and ubiquity of the for-profit “professional” guardianship/conservatorship industry.
My review of the new Netflix movie I Care A Lot is from a litigator’s perspective. I like one movie reviewer, Helen Shaw’s, take on I Care A Lot. While the movie is one work, she sees it as two films in one. She calls the guardianship opening sequences the “first film.”
Her description: “a horror film about the way we exploit and ignore the elderly, particularly frightening because it’s true … demonstrating how (Rosamund) Pike’s corporate-speak pseudo-compassion makes the[...]
Hello, I’m Mike Hackard of Hackard Law. We’re a law firm that civilly prosecutes trust beneficiary and catastrophic injury claims in California’s Superior Courts.
Juries are empowered by our system to impose accountability and consequences for those who have broken the rules and caused injury to another. Juries ultimately determine the damages – that which was taken from seniors inflicted by financial elder abuse through no fault of their own.
California vests juries with great authority to calculate damage remedies against financial elder abusers. Our statute says that an elder financially abused by a defendant may recover compensatory damages as part of their lawsuit. Compensatory damages include both economic (what was phys[...]
I’m Mike Hackard of Hackard Law. All trust beneficiary litigation, with its potent blend of family feuds, grief over loss, and conflict over money, is ultimately a quest for justice: the prevention of harm, protection of the victims, and pursuit of beneficiary rights.
An abused beneficiary experiences several emotions: a deep-rooted mix of family expectations, fear of rejection, and mourning. These cases stem from wrongdoing - from the violation of moral, family or legal rules.
Trustees who fraudulently or recklessly breach their duties of loyalty and fidelity may be liable for the emotional distress damages inflicted on the abused beneficiary. Lawsuits may be filed to prevent further harm to beneficiaries. To protect them from cont[...]
I’m Mike Hackard. Our law firm represents plaintiffs in trust, estate and catastrophic injury litigation. We know that when a trustee is indifferent or careless with trust funds and assets, it’s the beneficiaries who suffer.
We’re often retained by trust beneficiaries to petition a California Probate Court for an order removing the trustee. A request for a trust accounting is often a part of this petition. A trust accounting will show what the trustee has been up to with funds from the trust – it becomes a lot harder to conceal negligence, carelessness, self-dealing and even embezzlement by the trustee.
Trustees run out of excuses for failure to distribute funds, and silence is no defense. When a petition for trust accountin[...]
Hi, I’m Mike Hackard. I’m a trial advocate. I love what I do.
It involves people. Lives rich in humanity. In stories that touch us. That reach across generations. These stories have characters, plots and motives – and mysteries.
Trust beneficiary litigation often involves, in the eyes of objective observers, innocent people. People that did no wrong. We’re tasked to speak for them - to do so with respect and humility.
To take facts and work them into a compelling narrative. Not to exaggerate. To admit mistakes. To not promise that which we can’t deliver.
It’s so important that I listen. That we listen. People make mistakes. Our clients make mistakes. Serious trust beneficiary litigation involves more than mistakes.
Hi, I’m Mike Hackard. I want to tell you about a son, we’ll call him Jacob, who had to sue his sister, Charlotte, to receive his inheritance. Their mom died earlier this year. Their mom’s California home, worth about a million dollars, is titled in a trust.
Jacob’s mom told him many times that the home would be sold after her death and the proceeds would be split equally between Charlotte and him. Charlotte has been living in the home over the past five years. Charlotte has difficulty in keeping jobs and was unemployed even before moving to their mom’s home. She continued to be unemployed. She lived off of her mom.
Charlotte will not let Jacob into the home. She’s prevented him from entering since mom’s February 2020 dea[...]
You are the beneficiary of your father’s trust. You’re also the successor trustee. Your father created the trust. This makes him the settlor.
He is also the trustee. He manages the trust. He names himself as the trust’s primary beneficiary of the trust during his lifetime.
You become the successor trustee at his death. You now have the duties of management and administration. You and your three siblings are beneficiaries of the trust. You are not trained for this.
Trust assets include rental properties, the family home, and stocks and bonds. You have the duty to marshal the assets. This means you are to organize and ultimately distribute assets to creditors and beneficiaries.
Contractual or legal claims are also assets of [...]
Scott and Ascher on Trusts is widely regarded as the leading American authority on the law of trusts. That’s why I keep its set of eight volumes on my desk and within easy reach.
It’s full of practical advice on protecting the rights of beneficiaries and would-be beneficiaries. I read it regularly and search for insights that might have eluded me.
Trust challenges, for the most part, arise from the actions of an existing trustee or prior actions of beneficiaries that unduly influenced the trustor – the maker of the trust. Most of these trusts have more than one beneficiary or would-be beneficiary who can sue to overturn, enforce or otherwise affect the trust and the distribution of trust assets.
My early conversations with a [...]
An accused’s right to a speedy trial is one of our most basic Constitutional rights. It starts when a criminal prosecution begins. It serves both the interests of defendants and society alike.
There is no constitutional right to a speedy jury trial in civil proceedings. That said, as a former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice observed:
“The right to trial by jury in civil cases at common law is fundamental to our history and jurisprudence. A right so fundamental and sacred to the citizens should be jealously guarded.”
COVID-19 shutdowns have forced lawyers and their clients to confront the contradiction between protecting this fundamental right and its loss or severe limitation occasioned by widespread governmental orders. Ord[...]
You’re concerned – frustrated – baffled.
Your mom or dad is in failing health. Maybe they’ve been taken in a senior scam. Maybe their bills are piling up. They don’t remember how to pay them. Or they’ve left the stove on hours after cooking. You can fill in the blanks.
I saw this with my own mom. My friends have seen it with theirs. But you have not faced this before.
You talk with your mom or dad about your concerns. To them everything is fine. You have few people that you can talk to about this. So, you go online.
You see they’re lots of lawyers describing themselves as conservatorship attorneys. In California there are licensed fiduciaries. They advertise themselves as compassionate. You want to read the fine pr[...]