Problem: Wife of 20+ yrs was about lose all of her deceased husband’s property to her stepchildren in probate court. Wife received free legal advice from a family member – who was an attorney (but the well meaning relative did not specialize in estate planning). Wife was about to “walk away” with nothing.
Result: We subpoenaed a variety of financial and government records and obtained key financial documents which were favorable to the Wife. By establishing the timeline of the property acquisitions and sourcing the funds, we were able to help her obtain a settlement of a substantial share of the estate without the delays and costs of a trial.
Problem: Heirs of a deceased brother were shocked to receive a claim of heirship from the decedent’s “child” that no one had ever heard of. The “child” presented documents from a foreign government overseas, that purported to show her family relationship to the deceased. The siblings of the deceased were about to lose their brother’s life’s savings to a complete stranger but with their brother unable to answer questions, they had no way of being sure whether she was really their niece.
Result: We searched for and obtained the decedent’s true family history from US government records and established at trial that the “child” was not an heir, and that the documents she had submitted to the court from the foreign country were not authentic. The “child’s” false claim of heirship was rejected by the court.
Problem: Elderly wife of deceased husband was told that she had signed away all her rights to inherit any property and she was evicted from the home she and her husband had lived in for many years. Without a home and unable to pay rent to move into a new residence, she was staying with relatives. She brought the documents in to us, but said she had no recollection of signing any such documents. Unfortunately she had no way of disproving the signatures and she could not afford costly litigation.
Result: We obtained an expert review of the questioned documents by a forensic document examiner who concluded that the wife’s “signatures” on key documents were indeed forgeries. Using the forgery analysis and examiner’s report to establish her rights, we assisted her in obtaining a large settlement without trial.
Problem: Brother of our client was the Trustee of their parents’ trust. Upon the deaths of their parents, Brother would not provide information about trust assets, would not pay our client’s share of the trust assets to her, and repeatedly asked for her signatures on “waiver” forms if she wanted to speed up the process. Brother’s attorney blamed the delays on “difficulties” of trust administration and offered “partial” payments IF she signed the waivers. Month after month passed with no information and no distributions of assets, so the Client finally came to us.
Result: We advised her not to sign any waivers without checking on the underlying calculations. We notified the Trustee’s attorney of the breaches and problems with their position, reminding him of the requirements of certain California laws the trustee was violating, and reviewing our client’s avenues of recourse. Within 48 hours, the Trustee paid our client the whole distribution due to our client without holding back any portions – and our client waived none of her rights.
Problem: Father suffered a stroke and was comatose in intensive care for weeks. As a result, the father’s business was about to fail, with multiple problems including pending eviction for failure to pay rent, loss of business assets to competitors and loss of key employees, etc.. Father did not have a Power of Attorney in place, or a business employee or Agent designated with the legal authority to intervene to protect the Father’s business.
Result: We obtained emergency authorization from the Superior Court authorizing his daughter to immediately intervene at the business. Within days of retaining us, the daughter was able to recover business assets, fire the bad employees, and run the business until Father recovered.
Problem: Wife of deceased husband was unable to locate her husband’s Will and was told that she would need to move out of the house she and her husband had lived in for many years. Without a Will, her husband’s relatives would inherit a large share of the home and they wanted her to move out so the house could be sold and the estate could be divided.
Result: We filed a petition on the wife’s behalf to give her the right to continue to live in the home rent-free for the rest of her life, as long as she maintained the home and paid property taxes. The judge who granted the petition said it was the first time that judge had seen the type of petition we filed in that court.
Problem: The child of a former client contacted us, wanting to sue the Trustee of her Trust. The former client had created a Trust with us for the protection of all of his children, and the client had chosen a successor Trustee who was good at money management, to manage the Trust and provide for his children’s living expenses until they reached certain educational and age milestones the client had included in his Trust. The child was 20 years of age when she contacted us, and stated that upon the former client’s death, the successor Trustee would not provide her with a car that she said was needed for transportation.
Result: We contacted the successor Trustee’s attorney to inquire about the car and learned that the 20 year old beneficiary wanted a $300,000 sports car, which the successor Trustee did not agree to provide with the Trust assets. Since the Trust was set up to provide for the children’s health, education, maintenance and support until they reached age 45, the successor Trustee was able to continue to manage the funds prudently and could provide a safer and more reasonably priced alternate vehicle for transportation so the child would not run out of money or spend all of their inheritance on imprudent purchases.
Problem: Brother was tricked by Sister into signing away important rights to receive his share of the inheritance from his parents’ trust. Brother’s signature on the document allowed Sister to control everything, and Brother thought he had no recourse other than to take whatever Sister was willing to give him.
Result: We obtained a court order in favor of the Brother, awarding him his rightful share of the inheritance, as was intended by his parents all along.
Problem: Child A and Child B were beneficiaries of their parent’s trust. A family member who favored their own children took charge of the trust. Child A and Child B could not receive any of the funds due to them from the trust, for several years.
Result: We helped Child A and B receive all of the funds due to them. In addition, Child A and B received all of the attorneys’ fees they had expended.
Problem: Client loaned money to a friend. The friend died before repaying the loan. Due to statute of limitations issues, the client was about to lose the right to collect any of the money owed.
Result: We helped client take action in time, and he received the money owed from the friend’s estate, in probate court.
Problem: Mother owned a successful specialty business which her two children could not operate. If the Mother became unable to work or if she died, the business would close down resulting in millions in losses to the family, a waste of her life’s work.
Result: We helped Mother create a complete estate plan including a business succession plan, ensuring that the business passes to third parties of her choosing – who have the experience to keep the business operating. The third parties will pay the full fair market value of the business to the children if the Mother dies or becomes unable to work, and the agreement is backed by an insurance policy to ensure 100% payment.
Problem: Daughters of a deceased parent tried for over three years to collect the parent’s account from an out-of-state company. The daughters had an attorney. But the company was unfamiliar with California law and would not release the account. The daughters were about to give up.
Result: Within a weeks of retaining our office, the daughters had a check for the full value of the account in their hands from the out-of-state company. This result was obtained after a series of detailed communications between our office and the company, without filing a lawsuit.
Problem: Parents with a business, business property, a home, and life insurance would have incurred over $100,000 in probate fees and over $1M in estate taxes upon death, which would mean that their children would be forced to liquidate important family assets within 9 months of their parents’ death.
Result: We helped Parents create a COMPLETE estate plan – so clients will be able to pass ALL their property to their heirs with no probate fees and no estate taxes.
Problem: A husband and wife created a living trust with us. They had no children together, but the husband had children from a former marriage. If one of them died, the Trust left all their property to the other spouse, and after the death of the surviving spouse, any property left was to go to various friends and religious organizations. After the husband’s death, his children disagreed with the Trust instructions that left them out. They made various demands to the wife (their stepmother) asking for money, and then hired a lawyer to file a trust contest in court, claiming that the trust was the product of incapacity, undue influence, duress etc. and that their father would never have made such a Trust.
Result: We had advised these clients to add additional safeguards to their estate plan including among other steps, extra meetings to confirm their wishes with multiple members of our staff in attendance, some portions of the meetings with just one spouse at a time, having them return to our office several months later alone for additional documentation and confirmation of their wishes, obtaining a handwritten letter by the Husband about his individual reasons for deciding not to leave property to his children, and documenting both clients’ mental capacity with letters received from the medical professionals at around the time the clients made the trust with us, etc.. When presented with the mountain of evidence that their contest would be unsuccessful, the children dismissed their case.