RICO Laws & Estate Litigation
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. We represent wronged heirs and beneficiaries of estates and trusts in California’s largest urban courts.
I first represented clients in a probate proceeding over four decades ago. I’ve long believed our probate courts have difficulty in fully addressing the wrongdoing caused by thieves of estate and trust assets.
Remedies are limited while the wrongdoings are limitless.
The California Legislature has gradually expanded remedies for estate wrongdoing. Elders and dependent adults now have more protection against financial elder abusers.
Still, taking action can be expensive, time intensive, and even impacted by secret wrongdoing. Litigators for aggrieved heirs and beneficiaries seek new ways to overcome estate administrator and executor wrongdoing.
The July 2023 case of D’Addario v. D’Addario exemplifies how trust beneficiary lawyers went beyond their state’s limited probate court remedies to address trustee misconduct and asset plundering. The plaintiff in D’Addario brought claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. 1961 et seq., against her brother and others. The complaint alleges he orchestrated a long-running scheme to “plunder, pillage and loot the over $162,000,000 in assets of … (their) deceased father’s probate estate.”
“Over three decades after (her father’s) death, the estate remains open in probate court, and assets have not been distributed to beneficiaries.”
The plaintiff’s claims related to her brother’s “breach of his fiduciary duties. Her RICO claims were predicated on acts of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, monetary transactions with unlawful proceeds, interstate racketeering, and interstate transport of misappropriated funds in connection with the (alleged) fraudulent schemes.”
The D’Addario case is an example of how one court views the viability of RICO claims arising from fraudulent conduct – in this instance, an executor’s breach of fiduciary duties. The D’Addario court referenced the alleged fraudulent schemes and noted:
“[A]n executor of a decedent’s estate bears responsibility for the estate’s administration. The executor is generally responsible for gathering estate assets, paying expenses and claims, filing tax returns, making distributions under the terms of the decedent’s will, and maintaining records concerning management of the estate. The executor owes a duty of loyalty to beneficiaries and must avoid self-dealing.
“No principle is more equitable or better settled in the law than that a trustee shall make no personal profit from the funds entrusted to his care beyond a reasonable compensation for his services.”
Hackard Law represents aggrieved heirs and beneficiaries in California’s probate and civil courts. If you would like to talk with us about your case, call us at 916-313-3030. We’ll be happy to speak with you.
Hackard Law: Attorneys Making a Difference
Attorney Michael Hackard
Michael Hackard is a top rated “AV” for over 20 years (“AV Preeminent is a significant rating accomplishment- a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.”). Avvo also ranks him with their highest rating – “ 10.0 Rating – ‘Superb.’” Michael is also a “SuperLawyer” – an honor reserved for no more than five percent of attorneys in each state. [ Attorney Bio ]
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