When someone wrongfully takes the family home in an estate or trust dispute, Sacramento heirs and beneficiaries end up frozen out and seemingly short of options.
Sacramento’s housing market has seen tremendous growth, and the median home value is just over $350,000. Unfortunately, higher real estate prices will tempt wrongdoers to steal the family home through fraud, undue influence and elder financial exploitation.
There are around 574,000 owner-occupied houses in Sacramento County, and residents 50 and older dominate ownership statistics at 65%. Senior citizens are more susceptible to fraud and undue influence, especially those suffering cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s or dementia, which means they’re more vulnerable to[...]
We have a cascade of coronavirus updates. Given our firm’s presence in litigating both probate and civil cases in California’s courts, we have an active interest in staying up to date how our judicial system is treating the coronavirus pandemic.
We collectively meet every Friday for a status review of cases and their scheduling requirements. Part of this review is an update of any changed court procedures. We can start with the highest court in the land.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Thursday, March 12, that it “will be closed to the public until further notice amid the coronavirus pandemic.” As of today, March 13, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Diego Courts are approaching the pandemic in different ways.
Over years of litigating probate, trust and estate battles, our clients frequently ask the question: Do many families go through estate battles like the one we are experiencing?
What first comes to our mind, as a response to the inquiry is Leo Tolstoy’s observation from Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Estate litigation battles, often outgrowths of unhappy families, have their own distinctive troubles. That said, the more estate battles we see, the more certain prevalent patterns become evident.
We represent people who challenge the wrongdoing of others in estate-related matters. Familiar grounds of challenge often arise from undue influence and financial elder abuse a[...]
Class action lawsuits often result in settlements that remain in trust for the benefit of the class members. While this might seem the end of the story, it is far from it. The trustee is often invested with the discretion to determine settlement amounts for each class member and when to make their distributions. In some cases, the trustee even has the authority to invest trust funds to increase distributions (or to fund charitable causes pertinent to the settlement). This authority can affect the legal and financial rights of class members.
In some cases, a trust litigator must intercede on behalf of class members to protect their interests. The experienced Los Angeles trust litigation attorneys at Hackard Law also serve trust benefi[...]
California has incorporated scientific knowledge into statutes defining undue influence and financial exploitation of elders. These legislative efforts culminated back in 2014 with the effective application of the new California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act. These statutes provide a powerful remedy against undue influence, including instances of deathbed transfers.
Undue influence is defined by California Probate Code Section 15610.70 as “excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person’s free will and results in inequity.” It includes four elements:
Vulnerability of the victim
Apparent authority of the influencer
Many beneficiaries of trust income do not realize the full extent of their legal rights regarding this income. While a trustee has some discretion to invest the principal value of trust property and distribute interest dividends amongst the trust beneficiaries, this authority is not unlimited. Beneficiaries who do not receive fair distributions of trust income have legal recourse against a trustee and, in some cases, may even be able to recover compensation from the trustee personally.
An experienced Santa Clara trust litigation attorney can help beneficiaries determine whether a trustee has violated their property rights, and how best to assert their rights in the future. At Hackard Law, we will listen to your story and recommend a [...]
Wills are often made months, years, or even decades before they are ever needed. This means that many are outdated by the time they are submitted to the probate court. Sometimes, this confusion can lead to bitter litigation that depletes the estate and impairs the property rights of all potential heirs. You can avoid this with effective planning and regular updates to estate planning documents.
The experienced probate litigation attorneys at Hackard Law focus on estate law. Santa Clara residents and their heirs can use their skills to protect their estates and rights.
Why Wills Can Easily Become Outdated
Many circumstances can make a will outdated, and render it partially—or wholly—invalid at the time of the death of the pe[...]
Trusts and wills are important legal tools that carry out a person’s wishes with respect to their property. When undue influence from an individual, group, or company overcomes a person’s will, some people can challenge these wishes in court. Proof of undue influence may invalidate a will or trust altogether.
Family members and friends should challenge trusts that undue influence helped to produce, because such trusts do not accurately reflect the wishes of the trust grantor. You can use litigation to promote the grantor’s wishes and protect that person from future undue influence. The experienced probate attorneys at Hackard Law focus on litigation of improper trusts and estates. They have the knowledge and skill necessary to [...]
Vacation homes are about people and places. We have fond memories of friends and family in places often visited. So, when we speak of vacation homes, we know that they are more than just bricks and mortar. They are family history – a chronology of our lives.
When it comes to estate planning for these properties, we need to give more than passing attention. I know – we do estate and trust litigation, and we’ve seen the multiple ways that vacation homes can challenge estate and trust administration. I’ll give a few of them. Identifying facts have been changed to protect the privacy of the participants.
A loving dad’s Monterey-area vacation home was in his trust at the time of his death. The dad, the settlor of the trust, direc[...]
Respect for elders is a basic foundation of many cultures and religions. Its neglect or absence is traumatic and disheartening to both societies and families.
No doubt, aging brains bring many challenges to elders, their families, and caregivers.
Responding to the challenges can be awkward. Functional decline, dementia, and depression can make communication difficult. They can also make abuse, neglect and financial exploitation more likely.
I share these thoughts from experience in representing elders and their families who’ve suffered financial elder abuse. Sometimes it’s too late for us to do something about it. Sometimes we catch it just in time.
Whether the wrongful act is done, in process, or not yet started, we need to[...]