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.
Whenever mediation occurs it is usually a day-long event - an event that often includes a "hard day's night." The process involves a neutral mediator that helps effectuate negotiation between the attorneys for estates, trusts, heirs, and beneficiaries. Clients are deeply involved in the process and are understandably swept with emotion as offers and counter-offers come in.
It's late afternoon. Jack sits in his favorite chair. It gives him a good view of his backyard - a good look at the birds that visit. He can see the TV from where he sits. His phone is on the table next to him.
Imagine you're out driving in an open area on a beautiful, clear day. You can see as far as the tree line on the horizon. Suddenly, off in the field to your right you spot someone in the distance - it's an old man in tattered clothes. He's limping slowly and looks to be in pain; he's suffering. And then, in the sky above, you notice something extraordinary - there's vultures circling, just like in the old cartoons we used to watch. Would you stop and help the old man? Maybe bring him some water and call for medical help? You wouldn't let the vultures swoop down.
Sibling battles have been immortalized in fact, fiction, film - and unfortunately, in thousands of court dockets. It's said that when the second child shows up on the family scene that the classic tug of war for parental attention begins. More siblings - more tug-of-wars, more shifting alliances and more life stories.
Unless you're from Santa Barbara, you may not know the name Huguette Clark. She was the reclusive heiress to a $300 million copper and railroad fortune amassed by her father, W.A. Clark, a former US Senator from Montana who also held the distinction of being the founder of the city of Las Vegas. When Clark died in 2011 at the age of 104, she created by will the Bellosguardo Foundation, whose purpose was to foster the arts by displaying her art collection at her massive $85 million, 23 ½ acre summer home in Santa Barbara.
It looks like the long estate battle between 95-year-old billionaire Viacom owner Sumner Redstone and his former live-in girlfriend Manuela Herzer has finally come to an end. Yesterday the two sides reached a settlement agreement, and just in time - the parties were about to enter into a second round of litigation over Herzer being removed from Redstone's will in 2015.
You may not be a country music fan, but even if you're not you can probably appreciate Johnny Cash's tongue in cheek rendition of "I've Been Everywhere."
At times I think that we at Hackard Law have a bird's-eye view of California trust litigation. Our perspective is gained from both the cases that we take and don't take.