"What is an Estate?" This question, while appearing simple on its face, generates a few other questions. The word is used in so many contexts - estate planning, estate trust, testate estate, intestate estate, estate accounts, estate homes, estate personal representatives, estate administrators and estate executors. So, let's start with its meaning within the context of a probate estate. An estate is testate if the person has a will at the time of death and intestate if the person died without a will.
Disinheritance is emotionally and financially troubling. It shatters long-held family expectations.
Did your interest in a trust evaporate because of the actions of a caregiver who unduly influenced your parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle? It happens and, in our experience, it happens with some frequency. And, once challenged, it is also our experience that a wrongdoing caregiver treats an elder's natural heirs with irritation and contempt.
California estate and trust litigation is expensive. A common question from non-clients of law firms like Hackard Law that accept contingency cases is, "How much are you [the attorney] making in this case?" It's a good question and the response must be measured in both protecting the client's attorney-client privilege as well as providing a meaningful response if appropriate within the context of the question.
Deathbed transfers of estate or trust assets can look suspicious, and there's good reasons why. The timing is off, to put it lightly, and the ailing maker of an estate or trust can be subject to undue influence. The tragic story of a professional football player's terminal illness and deathbed transfer shares key features I've seen in other litigation battles over a decedent's inheritance.
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.
It's easy to believe at the beginning, middle or even long into a journey that we are "chasing the wind" - engaged in a futile task with nothing gained. This feeling easily accompanies an effort to reach out to people with video presentations. J.P. Mark, a noted research analyst and author of several books, captures this attitudinal predilection in his recently published article Making Magic: Why Lawyers (And Other Professionals) Don't Post More YouTube Videos. Mr. Mark notes:
A few friends and colleagues have expressed interest in having me talk about legal marketing - a subject that I both enjoy and regularly participate in. We should start with a little history. I became a lawyer in December 1976. At that time lawyers were generally prohibited from publicizing themselves or their law firms in newspapers, magazines, radio or television. It was expected that a lawyers reputation could only grow with experience and community involvement - an obvious advantage to those who had been in the legal profession for many years. Advertising rules began to change in June 1977 with the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision of Bates v. State Bar of Arizona. I've followed the effects of Bates since my very first year of law practice.
The Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement (EAGLE) is now available online. "The guide is a national web module designed to support enforcement officers in identifying, intervening, and resolving cases of elder abuse...EAGLE funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and was led by the University of Southern California's (USC) Keck School of Medicine, host of the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)."