I'm Mike Hackard of Hackard Law. I feel fortunate to represent abused beneficiaries seeking justice against trustees who appear to put their own financial interest over the beneficiaries they are duty bound to serve.
We've shared over 500 blog posts and YouTube videos with people interested in trust, estate, probate and elder financial abuse issues.
California law provides that both individual and corporate trustees are entitled to compensation for their services as trustee. Corporate trustees, sometimes referenced as professional trustees, are different than individuals - like an aunt or an uncle administering a trust.
It's been over 40 years since I first represented clients in a will contest. A lot has changed over the years in estate litigation on behalf of beneficiaries. We now have elder financial abuse laws that can be enforced in jury trials. These newer laws often supplement the rights and remedies available from probate courts and allow the prosecution of some claims in the civil trial courts.
"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.
The power of trustees should not be underestimated. It is said that power can be intoxicating. Some grow with its possibilities and some swell with pride and arrogance. Those who swell may act like potentates whose power can be exercised arbitrarily and without explanation. When queried for reasoning behind a decision, their answer might mimic a parent's answer to a young child's question - "Because I said so!" While this might end a parent-child discussion, it is offensive to an adult trust beneficiary whose parent invested love, thought, time and money in establishing a trust for the benefit of her children, not a trustee.