• Do I Have a Real Case? | Probate, Estates & Trusts Litigation
    Articles,  Blog

    Do I Have a Real Case? | Probate, Estates & Trusts Litigation

    I’m Mike Hackard. I lead Hackard Law, a Northern California based law firm that focuses on probate, estates & trusts litigation. I’m the one who is ultimately responsible for taking a new case. It’s an interesting and an imperfect process. We are not magicians – we know that we can’t magically turn a fact pattern into a viable legal case. Fact patterns are only part of the picture – if we delve deeper, they’re stories of real family traumas and strained personal relationships. Being spurned by a parent – even a parent with Alzheimer’s – or taken advantage of by a stepparent or sibling is not something generally shrugged off.…

  • What Are Common Acts of Fraud in Trust or Probate?
    Articles,  Blog

    What Are Common Acts of Fraud in Trust or Probate?

    I’m Mike Hackard of Hackard Law. We handle substantial trust, estate, probate and elder financial abuse litigation cases in California’s largest cities and counties. Frequent venues include Sacramento, Los Angeles and the major Bay Area Counties in between – including San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. While every case is different, there are often some common acts of fraud in trust, estate or probate lawsuits. I’ll talk about some of my own observations of these common acts of fraud in trust and probate disputes. Let’s start with the difference between actual and constructive fraud. California law defines actual fraud as consisting “in any of the following acts,…

  • Probate vs Nonprobate Transfers | How Assets Transfer at Death
    Articles,  Blog

    Probate vs Nonprobate Transfers | How Assets Transfer at Death

    Hello, I’m Mike Hackard. I am a California estate and trust litigation lawyer. I began the practice of law in 1976, and I’ve been very active to this day. I want to discuss how assets pass on after we pass on. We begin by recognizing how different is the part played by our probate courts from that of automatic transfers on death. We can see these differences by telling some stories. We in the United States have the gift of owning property. We have certain property rights and responsibilities associated with the ownership. For example, if we own a home, we have the responsibility of paying property taxes. We may…

  • Prosecuting Estate Theft & Fraud
    Articles,  Blog

    Prosecuting Estate Theft & Fraud

    Litigated estate cases run hot. They’re like hard-fought, name-calling political campaigns. Allegations and counter- allegations abound. Much that is said in the heat of the moment is later softened or withdrawn altogether. This is not about the heat of the moment. It is not about estate differences, however cantankerous, between personal administrators, executors, trustees, heirs, beneficiaries or estate creditors. It is about out-and-out theft from an estate. We handle a good deal of estate litigation. I’m happy to report that estate embezzlement is rare, but disheartened to report that still exists. When estate theft is discovered, there is near universal surprise and consternation: “How could this happen?” Well, it does…