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. I handled my first will challenge over 45 years ago.
Much has changed in the world of law. That said, will challenges, unlike trust challenges, are similar to what they were back then.
Wills can present unexpected windfalls or the transfer of treasured possessions. They can bring families together or split families apart. Getting disinherited can feel like abandonment or expulsion from the family. It hurts. Heirs want to look behind it. So, let’s talk about the bases for California will challenges.
Lack of Formalities
In California, oral wills that are not in writing are invalid. A will can be typed or handwritten. The maker of the will, called the testator, does not need to type the will h[...]
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. We litigate contingency fee trust and estate disputes.
Hundreds of things can go wrong in trust formation and trust administration. Some preventive measures can help to make some things go right.
Safe deposit boxes and home safes are common in family estates. Safe deposit boxes cannot be accessed by anybody. In California, co-renters can access the box without other co-renters present. If the renter is deceased, the person accessing the box must provide a death certificate, driver’s license or other valid ID, and the key to the box.
It is my experience, at least as to litigated cases, I’ve never seen it where a decedent provided anyone with a safety deposit box inventory - or for that matte[...]
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. We litigate California estate, trust, and elder financial abuse cases.
Our cases enfold classic human dramas. Dislocation from families. Lives changed. Secrets revealed. Chaos.
Stepfamilies present particular dramas. Intestacy and stepchildren issues are one of them.
The characters and events depicted in this story are entirely fictional. The referenced law is real.
Ron and Sandy met in 2005. Ron had never been married. Sandy had been married. She and her first husband had three children. The first marriage ended soon after the third child was born.
Ron and Sandy married in 2006. They had little in the way of separate property. They worked hard and secured high paying Silicon Valley jobs[...]
I’m Mike Hackard of Hackard Law. One thing at Hackard Law I’m proud of is our estate and trust litigation videos on YouTube.
We’ve made over 700 videos, with seven thousand subscribers and over four and a half million views. Our videos focus on issues that families care about – trusts, estates, and elder financial abuse.
There are at least ten things that strike us, consciously or unconsciously, when we first answer a new client’s phone call.
One: The area code. You know how this goes. You see an area code displayed on your phone. I can recognize a number of them. Other times they seem peculiar.
This is not unusual. While we only practice law in California, we get calls from all over the country. I’ve also advised pe[...]
I’m Mike Hackard. I’m an estate and trust beneficiary rights litigator with Hackard Law.
I became an attorney when Gerald Ford was President. Now, eight Presidents later, I’m still practicing law, and I still like it.
We represent clients in both Northern and Southern California’s largest trial courts. Our case load reflects real-world issues that Californians face.
It’s estimated that about 17% of people remarry after the first marriage ends. Stepmoms and stepdads’ relationships with their biological children and stepchildren are different. It can be challenging for a biological child to accept a second marriage. Difficulties can persist despite the good faith best efforts of all.
Some aspects of these difficulties [...]
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. Our YouTube videos deal with the challenges of elder abuse, estate litigation, and trust disputes.
We address inquiries from over twelve hundred people per year – many of whom have seen one or more of our videos. Most inquiries don’t turn into cases. But they do allow us to share useful information and help people who wonder if they have a case.
How do we make decisions as to whether we take a case? Effective decision making is a four-part process: We gather facts; apply our intuition; make a reasonable judgment; and see how what we know generally fits within legal authority.
For now, I’m only going to focus on intuition. Intuition is the ability to understand something immediately, witho[...]
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. Our law firm litigates California will and trust disputes.
A will vests a decedent’s real and personal property in an executor. Executor may also mean administrator or personal representative.
An executor must deal fairly with all the beneficiaries of the estate. A beneficiary can set aside an estate sale to an executor if the executor did not deal fairly and fully disclose all relevant facts of the transaction.
The responsibilities of an executor generally involve three duties:
Take possession of the decedent’s real and personal property.
Pay the decedent’s debts.
Distribute the surplus, if any, in accordance with the will or the state rules of intestate succession.
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. I lead a California law firm that focuses on estate and trust litigation.
I like to share the most common reasons that clients reach out to us for help. In three brief words – “Trust beneficiary disputes.”
These disputes involve trustee removals, secrecy, mismanagement, delayed distributions, and disinheritance. They often include the financial abuse of an Alzheimer’s patient.
An elder had an existing trust – a trust made before an Alzheimer’s diagnosis or its symptoms. The Trust reflects the elder’s long time estate planning goals. Goals that include a parent’s desire to equally distribute her trust assets to her children.
The elder begins to suffer from Alzheimer’s symptom[...]
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. Hackard Law litigates California estate and trust cases.
We’ve doubled down on how we litigate these cases – we’ve strengthened our commitment. In blackjack, “double down” means doubling a bet after seeing one’s initial cards. You’ve upped the ante and an additional card must be drawn.
We often take estate and trust litigation cases on a contingency fee. It too has risks and rewards.
We determine the initial set of facts. Facts include the parties, the assets, the activities that led to litigation, and the law. We consider whether we would accept the case on a contingency basis.
In contingency cases we lawyers don’t get paid unless we resolve, settle, or win the case. We gener[...]