Estate & Trust Battles | Litigation is War
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. We work at being one of California’s leading law firms handling estate, trust, and elder financial abuse cases.
We litigate cases from Sacramento to San Diego. Our heaviest case concentrations are in Sacramento, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area.
I’ve written extensively about what we do. My book, The Wolf at the Door, has been widely reviewed in newspapers, magazines, and the electronic media.
Ben Franklin said, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” I think that The Wolf at the Door is worth reading. I also think that the actions we take for families in estate, trust, and elder financial abuse litigation are worth doing.
Litigation is war. There are battles, raids and skirmishes. Skirmishes can be a minor dispute or contest between opposing parties. Raids can be daring operations against an opposing party. Battles are longer term engagements of extended contests, struggles, or controversies.
Our more recent skirmishes have involved parties who may agree on their beneficial interests but have disputes as to the timing of asset distributions. These cases don’t evolve into battles if reasonable heads prevail.
Raids may be smaller-scale operations. Estate assets, not a major part of an estate, go missing. Cash thought to be in safes evaporates with some frequency.
Battles, major battles, are the largest part of our litigation practice. Death bed transfers of significant estate assets set off full-sized fights.
When a trustee engages in self-dealing, some might call it stealing, and transfers millions of dollars of family assets to himself, he puts wronged beneficiaries on the warpath. They’re forced to right the wrong.
A war may be “just” or “unjust.” Classic interpretations of a “just war” are circumstances where people try to ward off the threat of domination by an opponent or to overthrow an oppressor.
It’s just to recover assets from an elder financial abuser. An abuser who unduly influenced his Alzheimer’s impaired father to transfer millions of dollars of Los Angeles real estate to him. And, in doing so, cut off other siblings who were long-named beneficiaries of their father’s trust.
It’s just to recapture property from a trustee who cut her brothers and sisters from their mother’s trust so that she could grab millions of dollars in marketable securities for herself.
It’s just to pursue a life insurance beneficiary who impersonated a near-death life insurance policyholder to change the holder’s child as the beneficiary of the policy to herself.
“Just war” in the litigation context is connected to “just cause.” “Just cause” is determining whether the wrong committed justifies litigation as the appropriate response.
The examples of wrongdoing that I’ve given have been or are currently in litigation with the goal of righting the wrong. It might be a court determination or a jury verdict that rights the wrong. However, the harm is ultimately rectified.
We, on behalf of our clients, are engaged in battle. In its most classic sense, these battles are longer-term engagements.
They’re initiated by complaints in a civil or probate court. They proceed to discovery operations. The most telling of which have become depositions. Depositions, in a time of widespread video communications, have become trial.
Video recordings of witnesses can be viewed by mock trial jurors to assess credibility and likeability. The evasive or untruthful witness, marked by mock jurors as deceptive and unlikeable, might well determine the ultimate outcome of the actual jury trial.
Those cases that don’t settle go to trial. A trial that we are well-prepared for. A trial that is connected to a “just cause.”
If you’d like to speak with us about your case, call us at Hackard Law: 916-313-3030. We’ll be happy to hear from you.
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