Hackard Law is regularly engaged by Alameda County residents to represent them in estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation. The Alameda County Superior Court is the trial court for civil, criminal and probate cases filed in the County. The County is home to more than 260,000 adults over the age of 65.
“Alameda County Adult Protective Services receives approximately 400 reports of (elder) abuse per month with self-neglect as the highest reported abuse, followed by (elder) financial abuse.”
Elder financial abuse is often not discovered until the elder has passed away. When the abuse is discovered, estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation often ensues. The economic subject of such litigation often revolves around the [...]
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 [...]
What options does a beneficiary have against a bad trustee?
Let’s say a trustee is abusing their position and not distributing funds to the beneficiary. Maybe they’ve frozen them out of the trust completely and are using other people’s money to enrich themselves: trips to Hawaii, new cars, the whole nine yards. I’ve seen it before.
Let’s start by taking stock of trustee advantages. Trustees usually possess the financial and legal power to defend against trust challenges. This is altogether suitable for trusts that are appropriately formed or amended. But what’s suitable for good conduct doesn’t work in defending bad conduct.
Challenges to trusts formed or amended by bad conduct present many hurdles to challengers – [...]
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[...]