Whether it's nonchalance, contempt, self-interest or ignorance, delayed trust beneficiary distributions can be truly distressing. Timely trust distributions are welcome, but unfortunately trustees don't always act in the best interests of beneficiaries.
Grandma and Grandpa have a trust. Their trust provides that at their first death, the trust assets will remain in trust for the benefit of the survivor. At the survivor's death, all trust assets are to be distributed in equal shares to their three children, Steve, Frank and Eve.
The median value for a house in California is currently $548,000. When it comes to median home values for Los Angeles, the figures keep climbing.
It's not easy to be a trustee - for a lot of reasons. Some particularly challenging aspects of the job involve trust beneficiary distribution decisions - decisions inherent to trust administration.
A recent Brookings Institution study estimated that one out of every ten people in the United States is not fluent in the English language. Non-English speakers are vulnerable and immigrants are a "common target for scam artists ... who don't understand our legal and financial systems." Non-English speakers are particularly vulnerable when trying to do estate plans, including wills and trusts.
There's a reason that deathbed transfers of estate or trust assets are more likely to be contested. And the story you're about to hear just provides further confirmation. Eleanor Potter was 89 when she died in 2015 at her residence in Maine. By all accounts, she led a good life. She was married for 41 years to Newell Potter, the owner of a local furniture store in Maine, and though they had no children, the Potters enjoyed a wide circle of friends. Eleanor worked at IBM for 40 years, she was active in local civic organizations, the couple traveled extensively, and she and her husband collected art and antiques.
Trust accountings can be routine or the genesis for shocking discoveries of embezzlement and trustee fraud. Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property belonging to someone else by a person to whom it has been entrusted. The theft of property with a value of more than $950 can be prosecuted by law enforcement agencies as a felony. Civil wrongs stemming from the same acts may be litigated in the civil courts.
Recently Michael Hackard joined Pamela D. Wilson, a caregiving expert and advocate for protecting the well-being of seniors. Pamela is the host of The Caring Generation, and we were honored to speak with her about how to counter elder financial abuse and undue influence. Thank you for the great talk, Pamela!
At Hackard Law, we do California estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation. Our practice experience includes circumstances where it seems that estate planning lawyers haven't really done their job. The few examples below are collected from real world experience and changed to protect the privacy of the parties involved.