Sibling battles have been immortalized in fact, fiction, film – and unfortunately, in thousands of court dockets. It’s said that when the second child shows up on the family scene that the classic tug of war for parental attention begins. More siblings – more tug-of-wars, more shifting alliances and more life stories.
Siblings have a unique perspective of family members’ personalities – a perspective that at times may be frozen in adolescence and emotions that cannot be quelled even with adulthood. Siblings live their inextricably linked lives from birth to death. Siblings’ relationships at their best are grounded in a sense of humor, love, respect and forgiveness and at their worst unremitting resentment.
It’s an unfortunat[...]
At times I think that we at Hackard Law have a bird’s-eye view of California trust litigation. Our perspective is gained from both the cases that we take and don’t take.
Our communications with clients and potential clients are, of course, privileged. That said, given our law firm’s high volume of calls and emails regarding trusts, estates and elder financial abuse we have a take on what issues are commonplace and what issues are rare.
A commonplace California trust issue is the failure of a trustee administering a decedent’s trust to sell the family home and distribute the proceeds to the named beneficiaries. This comes about for a variety of reasons – among them sheer procrastination, confusion as to duties, mistaken trust int[...]
Country music legend Glen Campbell, author of hits like Wichita Lineman and Rhinestone Cowboy, lived a long and fruitful 81 years. At the time of his passing away from Alzheimer’s disease in August of 2017, he would leave behind some 60 studio albums as well as eight children from four different marriages. With royalties included, his estate has been estimated to reach a scale of $50 million, seemingly more than enough for all beneficiaries.
There was just one problem, though – Campbell disinherited three of his eight children in his 13-page will from 2006. For reasons unknown to the public, the country star specifically excluded daughter Kelli Campbell and sons William and Wesley Campbell from any sort of inheritance. Campbell desig[...]
California heirs and beneficiaries expect that trustees, estate representatives and executors will act as good and prudent fiduciaries. When these fiduciaries fail and take money belonging to trust beneficiaries, they may be subject to civil and even criminal penalties.
There are several cases in point. A Sacramento woman was indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2018 for mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering (U.S. v. Stewart-Cabrera, United States District Court, E.D. California, Case No. 2:18-CR-0085 KJM). The woman, a professional fiduciary, served as the trustee of a trust that owned Sacramento property. The U.S. Attorney’s news release indicates that Loretta Darlene Stewart-Cabrera, the trustee, carried out a scheme in whi[...]
You’ve probably heard that “It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.” Public opinion guru Dr. Frank Luntz is making a career from this truth – he explains that he is “testing language and find(ing) words that will help his clients” explain their products or public issues.
So, we now have a new word when talking about California trust law, issues, modifications and transfers. It’s a word that we might say, but not necessarily hear or understand. The word is “decanting.”
The word’s general usage is associated with wine – pouring wine from one bottle into a carafe to remove sediment and allow it to breathe. California now gives new meaning to the word in its recently enacted Uniform Trust Decanting Act.
A recent news story on a Bay Area trust dispute caught my attention – not necessarily over the legal details, but because of the general elements common to many cases of estate litigation. It has features we encounter all too frequently in our advocacy for beneficiaries: a successful family business, an ailing patriarch, his children from a prior marriage, and a stepmother. These are the ingredients for potential conflict.
Back in 1951, an enterprising young immigrant arrives in San Francisco with his wife and founds a corner bakery that proves a hit with the local neighborhood. As the founder advances in age, he hands his son responsibility for running the business. The family-run bakery becomes a fixture of the community landscape for [...]
You know that something is wrong - something is just not right. How do you talk with a trust litigation attorney about trust issues when you know so little?
Maybe you don’t have a copy of the trust. Maybe you were frozen out of communication with your loved one over the last months – maybe years of his life. Maybe you weren’t even told of his death until days – maybe weeks from his passing.
How do you make sense of this? Well – let’s start with the truth that I’m just like you. I’m sure that if you’re a doctor, an electrician, a carpenter or computer programmer that I don’t know a thing about your field. I don’t even know what questions to ask about issues in your profession or career.
I feel a little embarrassed th[...]
Why do disinheritance issues often arise in blended families? Given the high incidence of divorce in the United States, at least half of America’s children live with a biological parent and a stepparent.
Blended families have many challenges, among them: different parenting styles; conflicting emotions and the natural stresses associated with change. Sibling rivalry may spring up between biological children and stepsiblings.
Longevity for Americans over the age of 50 is expected to exceed that of previous generations. There is a female advantage in longevity, and the advantage has widened over the years.
It is close to 7 years in the United States. So, it stands to reason that there will be more widowed stepmothers than widowed stepfat[...]
Hackard Law is striving to be the leading plaintiffs’ trust and estate contingency fee law firm in California. This is no small task. Our state has terrific lawyers and law firms committed to the ethical and competent representation of vulnerable abused trust and estate beneficiaries. Many of the attorneys regularly prosecute civil elder financial abuse cases against well-funded defendants.
Setting specific and ambitious goals - like seeking preeminence in a field - leads to a higher level of performance than easy or general goals. With this in mind and in the spirit of “if you care, you share,” I’ll address some of the stark differences that often exist between unfunded trust and estate challengers and their well-funded opponents.[...]
An unexpectedly large number of people open safe deposit boxes, leave them alone for several years, and forget the box ever existed. According to the Sacramento Bee, the California State Controller’s Office had the contents of more than 138,000 safe deposit boxes under its control in 2017, including more than 75,000 US Savings Bonds worth more than $30 Million. Sometimes banks move, and sometimes box holders move, but the usual way in which boxes get forgotten is when someone dies.
While safe deposit boxes can, and usually do, serve a useful purpose of safeguarding valuables, you should know that they aren’t 100% safe. Take, for example, a 2007 case reported on a Consumer Reports blog. A woman’s aunt showed up at a Bank of America [...]