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[...]
Elder abuse is a persistent threat to our seniors, and one of the most insidious forms is elder financial exploitation. The results can be disastrous, and they reverberate well beyond the pocketbook. Elder financial abuse can shatter a senior’s mental health.
Forensic neuropsychologist Dr. Stacey Wood is an expert on elder financial abuse, and she has devoted decades to advocacy for seniors who are victims of wrongdoing. She’s seen the effects of financial exploitation in hundreds of cases and has provided expert testimony in dozens of trials in court. She’s also been an expert witness for victims represented by Hackard Law, so I can speak to her experience and professionalism first-hand.
I was honored when Stacey quoted me in a[...]
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[...]
Hello, I’m Mike Hackard. I lead a group of Hackard Law lawyers who civilly prosecute trust beneficiary and catastrophic injury claims in California’s Superior Courts. A significant part of our litigation involves the recovery of damages from defendants who’ve inflicted financial elder abuse on seniors. California, like many states, provides for strong 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 physically taken or out of pocket losses) and noneconomic damages (widely referenced as physical pain, mental suffering and emotional distress).
Problem solving is often a function of experience. Tough cases test our ability to find the right solution. Dubious trust amendments present unique trials.
We litigate many California trust and estate contests. For us, many of these lawsuits are routine.
Sometimes the case circumstances are rare – seeming one-offs. More often, I feel like a surgeon removing his 400th appendix. I’ve been down this road before. I know the difference between the usual and the unusual.
Trust amendment challenges have some common beginnings. A parent makes a trust that is revocable during their lifetime. The parent is called the settlor.
The trust becomes irrevocable at the settlor’s death. There is some type of intervention after the formation[...]
Our elders are the custodians of memory - links to our past. They’re also keepers of family wealth.
They’ve been accumulating wealth longer. Aging brings more than wealth accumulation.
Almost 40 per cent of people over 65 experience some form of memory loss. It’s part of the normal aging process.
Vulnerability comes with age. And elders get targeted. They get manipulated.
This is not a small problem. Elder abuse, including exploitation, is experienced by 1 out of 10 people, ages 60 and older, who live at home. Financial abuse might involve home property transfers, bank account manipulations, power of attorney abuse, and changes in wills and trusts.
Those abused may not know it or may be too intimidated to report it. Rep[...]
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[...]
It’s a legal maxim that justice delayed is justice denied. This is particularly true for senior plaintiffs.
Defendants generally want to slow down litigation. The COVID-19 pandemic provides an even greater opportunity for delay. Access to courts is effectively blocked and justice is denied or at least substantially delayed to those who have been wronged.
A functioning civil justice system constrains predatory conduct. Our current system is not fully functioning. And, predatory conduct is not fully constrained.
California statutes can, under normal circumstances, provide some protection to seniors. California Code of Civil Procedure Section 36(a) allows a party 70 years or older to seek a civil trial preference. It’s not entirel[...]
Hi, I’m Mike Hackard. Our lawyers at Hackard Law litigate estate, trust and elder financial abuse cases for seniors and their families.
This summer we’re seeing an increase in elder exploitation – specifically the abuse of powers of attorney. It’s now been four months since Governor Gavin Newsom called for the isolation at home of all residents 65 years and older.
The Governor’s orders later expanded to affect all age groups. There have been unexpected drawbacks to the order and to similar orders throughout the world.
Experts say there is a “horrifying surge” in domestic violence around the world since COVID-19 lockdown policies went into effect. Growing numbers of domestic violence victims have been reported througho[...]
I’m Mike Hackard. At 70, I count among America’s elderly. My work as a lawyer and author involves speaking out for the protection of the elderly. And it’s not just because I’m 70.
It’s because I know that life is a gift – for young or old. Our culture often minimizes the value of our elders. When challenged - silence can be overwhelming.
Pope Francis is a leading voice that challenges us to do better. He’s said that a society that doesn’t help and reach out to its elderly is “perverse.” A society that discards its elderly is one that “carries the virus of death.” This culture magnifies “the elderly’s anguish over being barely tolerated and abandoned.”
At Hackard Law, we fight for the elderly in Califor[...]