The following are some of the trust, estate, conservatorship and elder abuse cases in which I have been involved.
Trust administration dispute and trial:
Represented a trustee in a very contentious trust administration. Two nephews thought that the trustee was in some manner not administering the trust and the real property properly, hired a very aggressive attorney, and spent a lot on attorneys’ fees. After distributions the nephews sued the trustee for breach of fiduciary duty. After a one week trial the trustee prevailed.
Will contest trial:
A 16-day will contest trial about an at-home computer software prepared will that left everything to the long-time live-in friend who the decedent would not marry, and nothing, not even personal property and family heirlooms, to the children who everyone testified the decedent loved. The testimony presented included family members and family friends, and computer and handwriting forensic experts. The court held: nevertheless there was not enough evidence to overturn the will.
Breach of fiduciary duty trial:
Trustee/beneficiary obtained multiple real property appraisals and then sought to sell the real property to her son for the appraised value. The other trust beneficiary objected. At trial the court held that the trustee/beneficiary breached her fiduciary duty in wanting to sell the property to her son. Neither the trustee/beneficiary nor the other beneficiary were happy with the court’s decision – both got together and settled the entire matter more favorably to both.
Breach of fiduciary duty and elder abuse trial:
A trust beneficiary brought an action against his trustee mom to stop the contract and sale of a trust commercial building at a significantly below market price. Mom sought to sell the property to a “friend” and ex-business partner of dad. The siblings were split – (1) either stop the sale because the property was worth a lot more and mom was being taken advantage of by the “friend”, or (2) let mom do what she wants and what will make her happy. After a 1-week court trial including valuation experts the sale was invalidated.
Trust contest and alleged oral agreement dispute:
Son claimed dad orally told him years ago that he would have some rights to the residential home, but mom and dad’s trust said otherwise. Close to trial and after multiple mediations the son withdraws his claim.
Multiple real property partition trials where owners or beneficiaries could not get along.
Conservatorship and financial elder abuse of mom by two strangers:
A lonely, nice, financially comfortable elderly woman was befriended by two men, both of whom were brothers. Mom loved corvette cars. The two men convinced mom to buy herself a corvette (V-8 engine) and another corvette for them. Daughter caught wind of it – went in for conservatorship and restraining orders. After some convincing the men abandoned the car and did not return.
Board and care facility financial elder abuse by two strangers:
A lonely, nice man was befriended by a younger man and woman couple, who come into the facility and spend a lot of time with the man in his room. The family heard of it. Conservatorship and stay away restraining orders are granted. The facility is supposed to keep the couple out but the couple keeps coming back and getting back in and are having the man start buying them gifts. The police tell the couple to stop, but they continue. When the police then threatened to arrest the couple they stop.
Grandfather wants to leave his house to his grandson:
Grandson and his wife helped take care of Grandfather. Grandfather lived in an expensive neighborhood. Grandfather wants to leave his house to his Grandson. APS got involved over issues relating to whether grandfather had mental capacity, knew what he was doing, and whether he was being unduly influenced. After extensive investigation APS concludes that all is okay.
Union post-death of judgment debtor action to recover remaining judgment:
Union recovered a judgment against a prior officer for embezzlement. The judgment debtor then died before the judgment was paid back, and the debtor’s surviving spouse would not pay the remaining amounts due. Brought multiple action and recovered the debt due (petition for probate and creditor claim, complaint for recovery of the creditor claim amount, action against the trust and its beneficiaries, and separate action against the surviving spouse for community property debt).
Multiple probate and trust actions on behalf of a bank to recovery on an unsecured loan after the debtor dies.
Administrative law action to stop a nursing home to stop the home from discharging a wheelchair resident who was backing up too fast – the SNF wanted to discharge the resident instead of fixing the problem – the ALJ ruled in favor of the resident but had to be forced into that decision as he wasn’t interested in the resident’s rights
Dispute whether an elderly husband and wife could stay at home:
Husband and wife wanted to continue living together and to stay at home. They had at-home care. One or both had possible dementia. There were also allegations of possible self-abuse (inadequate taking care of themselves), and they both liked to have a cocktail late in the day as both husband and wife were ex-military. After a contentious battle both were allowed to remain together at their home.
Dispute whether to disconnect mom from life prolonging hospital machines, and overmedications:
Mom was in a hospital, kept alive by machines. She did not have an advance directive. The siblings were split about whether to keep mom connected to the machines and whether she would have wanted to live that way. Mom could only blink her eyes. Experts came in on medical issues. The judge was asked to decide mom’s wishes. Eventually mom was disconnected. As it turned out, after mom was disconnected, the issue was improper and overmedication and how the medications were interacting – mom did not die, the medications were fixed – she lived a health, ambulatory life for 5 more years and died a natural death.
Nursing home drop and elder abuse:
Dad was a large man, and was prone to striking out when he was unsure what people were doing with him. The nursing home put a red sign above his bed stating that anytime he was moved from or to his bed (he had to be moved using a hoyer lift and was moved from his bed to a chair and back daily) there must be three certified nursing assistants present. Dad was moved using the hoyer lift with only two CNAs present. The hoyer lift tipped, dad was dropped, hit his head and subsequently died. The SNF blamed the CNAs. Testimony by the staff ultimately evidenced that there was inadequate staffing and that there never were enough CNAs available to have three people present.
Nursing home restraining jacket and elder abuse:
Nursing home CNA put dad in a restraining jacket and caused bad bruising to dad’s back and front torso so that the worker could get off work on time or early so to go see his girlfriend that night as it was Valentine’s Day.
Nursing home physical abuse of female resident:
A nursing home resident soiled herself. The male CNA was unhappy that he had to wash the resident – the CNA was rough with the resident and physically hurt and bruised her as he washed her in the shower.
Action against trustee for failure to diversify investments:
The trust terms allowed the trustee to invest essentially all of the assets in a stevedore company. The law firm that prepared the trust was also the successor trustee, and the stevedore company was also a client of the law firm. The value of the stevedore company was declining significantly year after year over a long period of time. A beneficiary brought suit against the trustee for damages.
Multiple other actions for or against trustees for accountings, and breach of fiduciary duties including investment breaches.