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Protect Your Rights

America is entering a period whereby the “Baby Boom” generation and even generations after that are inheriting a tremendous amount of wealth-quite literally trillions of dollars in wealth is expected to be transferred via inheritance in the next 20 years. Unfortunately, this has also resulted in a large number of inheritance disputes. It is not uncommon for families that once got along wonderfully to be riven by conflict once the parents pass away and the family legacy is to be split among the beneficiaries. When this happens, you need to ensure that your rights are protected.

There are many kinds of problems that can arise when a family is to share an inheritance:

1. Out-of-Control Trustees and Executors. Our Firm has repeatedly handled cases where the parents, in their family Trust, designate one sibling to be the Successor-Trustee (“Trustee’) and that person’s job is to carry out the plain writing in the Trust document. Too often, the new Trustee decides that he or she is entitled to decide how much of the family legacy will go to each of the siblings, favoring some while shortchanging others, even if the plain writing of the Trust document requires things to be divided equally. Just as often, the Trustee decides to disregard the plain language of the Trust and keep various assets for him or her self. This pattern recurs over and over again. Our Firm almost always has one or more cases like this on its Docket . In 2012 we tried and won a multi-million dollar case that exhibited precisely this fact pattern. In that case we were able to force the Trustee to pay the other siblings’ attorneys fees, and more importantly distribute the family legacy in accordance with the Trust document.

Another very common situation with “out of control” Trustees is secretiveness. Often a Trustee simply refuses to keep the other beneficiaries “in the loop” concerning what the Trustee is doing in connection with the Trust assets. Naturally this can raise suspicion and often this suspicion is justified. In almost all such cases an attorney can go into court and force the Trustee to fully account for all Trust assets and expenditures. Our Firm has done this many times and this can prevent misappropriation of Trust assets.

If you find yourself in this position, where a Trustee is disrespecting your rights, make no mistake: you need an attorney. Call our Firm for a free, no-obligation consultation.

2. Undue Influence – Taking Advantage of Elderly Parents or Relatives. Another unfortunate fact pattern that recurs repeatedly is someone taking advantage of an elderly parent or relative late in that person’s life. What often happens is that one of the beneficiaries causes the elderly person to sign an amendment to their Trust or Will that eliminates the original intent of the testamentary document and instead favors the one beneficiary. Another variant on this theme is that someone causes the elderly person to execute a deed to real property to the exclusion of the other beneficiaries and in contradiction to the real wishes of the owner. Elderly people sometimes have diminished mental powers and energy and can be susceptible to this kind of abuse. The law provides remedies to the other beneficiaries in this kind of situation but once again, if this happens you need a lawyer. Our Firm has handled numerous cases of this type and we have been successful in causing Courts to nullify changes to Wills or Trusts that were the product of undue influence.

3. Dueling Wills or Trusts. Sometimes after a beloved relative dies, more than one Will or Trust surfaces which contradict one another. One of them is usually either the product of Undue Influence or just plain forgery, but proving this is not always straightforward. In other cases an issue arises as to whether a particular Will or Trust was revoked by the decedent or intended to be his or her final decision about the inheritance.

See a Lawyer. The above situations are just a few of the variants of a common theme: inheritances can bring out the worst in some people and some families. If you believe that you are being shortchanged in connection with your inheritance you need to see a lawyer. In our Firm, we will always be pleased to offer a free consultation with an actual experienced trial attorney. We will take a look at your case and then tell you whether we think we can help. There is never any charge for this evaluation or any obligation whatever. Call us at 714-450-6568 and make your appointment today!