Rosa Parks will be forever known as the woman who literally sat down for justice and changed America for the better. Her act of civil disobedience in 1955 on a public bus in Alabama was a key turning point in the Civil Rights Movement, which culminated in a ruling by the U. S. Supreme Court in which segregation on public buses became unconstitutional.
By the time she died in 2005 at the age of 92, Parks suffered for many years with a progressive case of Alzheimer’s Disease. As I wrote about in my book, Alzheimer’s, Widowed Stepmothers and Estate Crimes, cognitive decline is often used by relatives to challenge the validity of wills and trusts, which is exactly what happened in Parks’ case.
The “Mother of the Freedom Movement” ha[...]
Lawyers and clients often use a contingency fee arrangement in trust and estate litigation. The arrangement only works where money and/or other valuable personal or real property is being claimed. The client agrees to the lawyer’s share when the mutual agreement is signed. Arrangements are also made as to what, if any, costs the lawyer will “advance” in the lawsuit.
Expert fees, filing fees, depositions and travel add up. This makes the lawyer quite conscious of costs.
Contingency fees under California law are negotiable. California Business and Professions Code Section 6147 clearly states that such fees are not set by law but are negotiable between the attorney and client. This must be disclosed in writing to the client. The lawy[...]
Illicit and prescription drugs and alcohol fuel trust, estate and elder financial abuse disputes. Addiction fires emotional and financial havoc on families. Parents of chemically addicted children grapple with anger and guilt.
We at Hackard Law, a California based law firm, regularly litigate contested matters in trust, estate and elder financial abuse disputes. These contests seem to fall into seven primary categories:
Elder Financial Abuse;
Life Insurance Beneficiary Litigation;
Trust Accounting; and
We’ve seen how drugs & alcohol addictions can ignite destructive and disastrous influences in every one of the seven categories. It is often said[...]
Recently Comstock’s Magazine, Sacramento’s most prominent business publication, asked me about dangers to look out for when planning your estate. I shared my thoughts on how to avoid potential future estate and trust litigation with Comstock’s writer Jennifer Fergesen. Here are the top five points I discussed:
Misunderstanding Estate Laws and Terminology: Knowing the basics of what differentiates, say, a will from a trust, or how to keep an estate out of probate will help you save time and money.
Getting the Wrong Advice: Experience and credibility matter, so treat finding the right lawyer or financial advisor you’d be looking for the right doctor to manage your health. Ask questions, do some research, and don’t be afraid to [...]
California’s median home value in September 2019 is $548,000. Bay Area median home values are even higher. As an example:
Fremont - $1,176,000;
Newark - $872,000;
Santa Clara - $1,396,000;
San Mateo - $1,513,000;
San Francisco - $1,421,100;
Redwood City - $2,688,000.
We have litigated trust beneficiary disputes over homes located in every one of the referenced cities. Experience teaches us that trust disputes involving the rights of beneficiaries and heirs to Bay Area homes are common and hard-fought. There is a lot at stake.
Homes are a target for those intent on estate undue influence and fraud. And, wronged and abused beneficiaries are not likely to walk away from the huge losses occasioned by fraud or undue influence.
Atherton, our nation’s most expensive ZIP code, is in the heart of the California Bay Area. Atherton’s median price for a single-family home in the first half of 2019 was $8.1 million. Real estate agents and brokers who handle these sales have plenty of reason to celebrate when an escrow closes. While Atherton house values are setting records the rest of the Bay Area housing market also have significant values. Median home prices for June, 2019 were $1,549,000 (San Mateo), $1,250,000 (Santa Clara), $926,000 (Alameda), and $665,000 (Contra Costa). When it comes to estate and trust transfers these high house values have significant repercussions.
California homeowners are getting older and wealthier as the value of their homes has increa[...]
Hello, I’m Mike Hackard. I am a California estate and trust litigation lawyer. I began the practice of law in 1976, and I’ve been very active to this day.
I want to discuss how assets pass on after we pass on. We begin by recognizing how different is the part played by our probate courts from that of automatic transfers on death. We can see these differences by telling some stories.
We in the United States have the gift of owning property. We have certain property rights and responsibilities associated with the ownership. For example, if we own a home, we have the responsibility of paying property taxes. We may also have responsibilities to homeowners associations. We own our cars and we also have the responsibility to license them.
We handle substantial trust, estate, probate and elder financial abuse litigation cases in California’s largest cities and counties. Frequent venues include Sacramento, Los Angeles and the major Bay Area Counties in between – including San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.
While every case is different, there are often some common acts of fraud in trust, estate or probate litigation. I’ll talk about some of my own observations of these common acts of fraud in trust and probate disputes. Let’s start with the difference between actual and constructive fraud.
California law defines actual fraud as consisting “in any of the following acts, committed by a party to the contract, or with his connivance, with intent[...]
We like what we do – we represent clients in California estate, trust and financial elder abuse litigation. Of course, like in anything, we like some aspects of what we do more than others. No one likes to hear complaining.
So, this isn’t a complaint. It’s a little insight into some aspects we like less than others. We’ll share what is sometimes the worst part of the litigation that we do. It’s about some common case motivators. It’s about how we lawyers process what we hear.
Let’s start with the simple term - “it’s the principle of the thing.” I’ve said this myself – plenty of times. But when it gets to litigation, “the principle of the thing” can fade as quickly as a declining bank account. Few would argue wi[...]
Hackard Law is a Northern California-based law firm that focuses on probate, estates & trusts litigation. I’m the one who is ultimately responsible for taking a new case. It’s an interesting and an imperfect process.
We are not magicians – we know that we can’t magically turn a fact pattern into a viable legal case. Fact patterns are only part of the picture – if we delve deeper, they’re stories of real family traumas and strained personal relationships.
Being spurned by a parent – even a parent with Alzheimer’s - or taken advantage of by a stepparent or sibling is not something generally shrugged off. When I speak with new people, I can often hear the hurt in their voices.
I know that I need to know more than the emo[...]