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 This means that many are outdated by the time they are submitted to the probate court.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[...]
Disinherited Alameda County estate & trust heirs and beneficiaries suffer most when the asset taken is the family home.
Alameda County owner-occupied homes are valuable – now with a median price of over $875,000.00. They’re a natural target for estate & trust wrongdoers.
And, there’s lots of them – over 325,000 owner-occupied houses in the county. So, when houses are taken from an elder by undue influence or fraud, the stakes are high.
Questioned transfers are not limited to those made while the elder is alive. Finding evidence of the transfers may occur while the elder is still living. But more often than not, the illicit transfers are detected after the elder’s death.
Such transfers might be revealed in a tit[...]
I’m not the story here. The story is about American families - and, their homes. Ben Harper wrote,
“A house is a home
even when we’ve up and gone
even when you’re there alone
a house is a home.”
The feeling for home runs deep. Family home memories are passed on to us. I’m a custodian of memory for several of my family’s homes. I’ve visited my great grandmother’s Irish home – a home she departed when only 15 to sail for America. We had cake and an Irish whiskey at the nearby home where her mother, my great-great grandmother, died.
My father took me to his boyhood Wyoming home. He pointed to the window where a lightning bolt once struck in a prairie thunderstorm. He showed me the room where his grandfather sl[...]
We invest elder caregivers with a remarkable amount of power. With power comes responsibility.
So, it’s troubling, even tragic, when this responsibility is abused. And, elder abuse, including elder financial abuse, is magnified when marriage is used for financial exploitation. I’ll share a couple stories - stories drawn from real cases – but changed in part to preserve privacy.
So, let’s start with Roger, an 82-year-old retired teacher. Roger was single for 81 years. Roger’s closest family members are his two sisters, Mary and Molly. They are named as equal beneficiaries in Roger’s 2014 trust.
A few years later, 2016, Roger was diagnosed with dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Roger’s failing memory, impaired mobility, and[...]