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)."
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.
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.
How many times in life do we falter because we or someone helping us fails to ask the right questions?