Hello, I'm Mike Hackard. I lead Hackard Law, a law firm that focuses on significant estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation in California. I'm the author of the new book Alzheimer's, Widowed Stepmothers & Estate Crimes, now available on Amazon.
Trust beneficiary disputes occur for a host of reasons. And, whatever the reason, it seems that Bay Area trust beneficiary disputes often involve who gets the family home.
Imagine: Your mother is an 86-year-old widow. Your father passed away ten years ago. You have three siblings - two brothers and a sister. You're all now in your 50s.
"A house divided against itself cannot stand." We read this in Scripture - the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. We see this in history. It's Abraham Lincoln's warning made on the eve of the Civil War. It's an everyday life truth.
The San Francisco Bay Area is overflowing with equity-rich homeowners. About half of Bay Area residents live in homes they own, and these homes have been escalators to wealth. Bay area home price increases have been astounding, and San Francisco in particular, may be in the early stages of some dramatic increases.
"What you focus on grows" is a garden metaphor - a simple truth with widespread application. Focus is a gift of presence coupled with deliberate practice. It is the use of our imagination paired with or own time commitments to practice essential tasks necessary for elevating our game. Growth spawned by focus is as applicable in our personal lives as it is in sports, music, business and the professions.
Trust beneficiary mediations are emotional. Alzheimer's, dementia, stepmothers, split families, undue influence and missing estate assets are threads that often run through the fabric of mediated estate and trust disputes. Passions run high. Feelings of betrayal mixed with grief are common to trust challengers and a protective belief of entitlement is common to the challenged.
The Los Angeles area real estate market is continuing to grow at a dynamic pace. Last year the median price for homes in Southern California jumped 8.2% to over half a million dollars. The LA housing market, like other vibrant California markets, is proving a great way to build wealth by home appreciation. Baby Boomers and the "Silent Generation" comprise a very significant share of LA homeowners. This immense source of wealth is often targeted, taken or obtained by elder financial abusers. This is a problem that we all should know about.
Home equity in Bay Area houses constitutes the largest share of household wealth. Older people, a large part of owner-occupied units, are more likely to have spouses and dual incomes. And, they simply have had more time to accumulate wealth.