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Trust & Estate litigation attorneys serving all of Northern California

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Since 2007:
  • 200+Trust
  • 400+Estate
  • 400+Litigation
  • 100+Securities
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Our Practice Areas

Trust Litigation
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Our trust litigation attorneys have handled hundreds of lawsuits covering all aspects of trust litigation, including trust contests, breach of fiduciary duty, disputed trust accountings, trustee removal cases, petitions for instructions, and disputes between cotrustees. We represent trustees accused of wrongdoing, as well as beneficiaries when their trustee is dishonest, incompetent, or sometimes just refuses to act.

We typically try to work things out with the other side before filing a petition in probate court, but by the time these disputes reach our office the litigation is often inevitable. If a court case is necessary, our trust litigation attorneys draft the court filings, appear in court on your behalf, conduct discovery, appear at mediation, take depositions, and try the case. We have handled cases throughout California, including San Francisco, Danville, and Walnut Creek.

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Elder Abuse
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Elder abuse is the financial abuse, physical abuse, isolation, or neglect of an elder or dependent adult. (A dependent adult is a person aged 18-64 with a mental or physical disability.) It is not uncommon for the victim of elder abuse to be reluctant to talk about the abuse because they are ashamed of being victimized or they don’t want to report a child to the police (Elder abuse is most often committed by a child against a parent.) Elder abuse is both a civil offense and a crime under California Penal Code Section 368.

Many elder abuse cases begin with a child or friend reporting to Adult Protective Services (APS). Each county in California has an APS office staffed with social workers trained to investigate suspected elder abuse. Sometimes APS reports abuse to law enforcement or the Public Guardian; however, our experience has been that APS rarely reports suspected financial elder abuse to law enforcement. In one instance, we sent the Sacramento Police Department a report by a Forensic Document Examiner (a handwriting expert) that identified 44 separate forged checks totaling over $600,000 from the checking accounts of victims aged 92 and 110. They did not prosecute the case.

Nevertheless, if you suspect elder abuse, report it to APS and the police, and hire an elder abuse attorney.

We have handled cases involving abuse by children, caregivers, and con men. Sometimes we obtain Elder Abuse Restraining Orders against the abuser, which order the abuser to stay away from the victim and not contact him or her by telephone, text, email, or mail. Although we tell clients not to expect it, the court can award attorneys’ fees or punitive damages in some cases.

Elder abuse cases can be extremely emotionally charged and very expensive. In addition, collecting on a judgement against a financial elder abuser can be as difficult as the underlying elder abuse case.

If your parent or loved one is being abused, our elder abuse attorneys can help.

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Estate Planning
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Estate planning is the creation of documents to provide for the disposition of a client’s property at their death; to appoint someone to manage their finances and make health care decisions for them if they are incapacitated; and to name guardians for their minor children. A typical estate plan consists of a living trust (sometimes called an inter vivos trust), a “pourover” will, a durable power of attorney for financial affairs, and an advance health care directive.

Estate planning is a central component of a responsible financial plan, and the need to hire an estate planning lawyer increases as one has children and gets older. Our estate planning lawyers often tell clients that they should revisit their estate plan at least three times: Initially, when they have their first child, second when their children become responsible adults, and finally when they are retired or elderly.

Our estate planning lawyers are Loren Barr, a partner, and Heidi Imsand, one of our four associates. Loren has been certified by the State Bar of California as a specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law since 2004. Heidi graduated magna cum laude from UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, passed the bar exam in 2013, and has drafted over 100 estate plans. She passed the Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law specialization exam in 2017 and expects to become a certified specialist in 2018.

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Trust Administration
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Trust administration is executing the terms of a living trust after the creator of the trust (the “Settlor”) dies or becomes incapacitated. When a trust is created by a married couple, there are typically two administrations—one after each spouse’s death.

At the first spouse’s death, the trust administration usually consists of re-titling assets into the surviving spouse’s name alone, and funding any sub-trusts created upon the death of the deceased spouse, such as a Survivor’s Trust, Exemption or Bypass Trust, or QTIP Trust.

The trust administration at the surviving spouse’s death (or in a single settlor trust, at the settlor’s death) is often more time consuming. It consists of identifying all the decedent’s assets, paying outstanding bills, filing the decedent’s final income tax returns and trust tax returns, providing the beneficiaries with an accounting of their acts as trustee, and distributing the trust assets to the beneficiaries.

Our trust administration attorneys have administered hundreds of trusts, from the simple to the complex. Besides drafting all the required legal documents, we give all our trustees a 10 page memorandum explaining their duties and obligations. If you serve as trustee, we can help. Although many of our trustee clients are from the East Bay—Danville, Walnut Creek, and the surrounding area—we also represent trustees located in Southern California and outside California.

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Will Contests
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A will or trust “contest” is a unique legal action in which one party – called the petitioner, contestant, or plaintiff – attempts to invalidate a will or trust, while the other party – typically a trustee or executor – seeks to defend the validity of the document. Most contests are brought on the grounds of incapacity — that the person who made the will or trust lacked the mental capacity to understand what they were doing – or undue influence. Undue influence is pressuring or coercing someone to dispose of their property in an unfair or unnatural manner.

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Conservatorship is a court proceeding designed to protect elders or dependent adults who may be unable to care for themselves or to resist fraud or undue influence. In a typical case, a family member or friend (called the “petitioner” ) files a petition with the court in which he or she asks to be named the “conservator” for the elder, who is referred to as the “proposed conservatee” . A “conservator of the person” is a person granted authority by the court to make decisions regarding the personal care of the conservatee. The conservator of the person typically makes decisions about the conservatee’s medical affairs, living arrangements, and social life. A “conservator of the estate” is granted the authority to make financial decisions for the elder. One person can serve as both the conservator of the estate and conservator of the person, although sometimes it is prudent or convenient for different individuals to serve in these roles.

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Securities Litigation
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Barr & Young represents Investors, Registered Investment Advisors, FINRA members, and Broker-Dealers in all aspects of securities litigation, arbitration, and investigations. We also represent financial professionals in trade secret, unfair competition, and raiding cases related to employees leaving their employer to join a competitor.

We have more than a quarter-century of experience handling fraud, suitability, breach of fiduciary duty, churning, and portfolio mismanagement claims. Gordon Young has tried or arbitrated over 75 cases to conclusion, and handled hundreds of cases involving stocks, bonds, mutual funds, managed accounts, preferred stocks, options, limited partnerships, structured products, private placements, hedge funds, and highly margined accounts.

Our familiarity with the securities industry uniquely positions us to represent frustrated investors or wrongfully accused investment professionals. The securities industry is heavily regulated, and with each passing market downturn, more scrutiny is directed at the professionals that advise investors. We defend licensed professionals in regulatory investigations and litigation brought by FINRA, the California Office of Business Oversight, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Our securities industry experience extends to trade secret, employee raiding, and unfair competition lawsuits and arbitrations. We have represented securities employers who have lost employees, and financial executives who have been the target of litigation by their former employers. Our lawyers are familiar with the interplay of the Broker Protocol, the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, and California’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act in connection with competitive hiring suits in the securities industry.

Protect your investment portfolio, professional license and reputation, book of business, and bottom line by hiring Barr & Young today.

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Loren Barr

Loren Barr specializes in estate and trust litigation, estate planning, and trust and estate administration.
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Gordon Young is a 25-year litigator who practices in securities, financial, and trust & estate...
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Heidi Imsand

Heidi’s focus is Estates & Trusts, serving clients from Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, San...
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Donald J. Slater

Donald’s focus is Trust & Estate Litigation, serving clients from Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara,...
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David Monsour

David practices in the areas of Securities Litigation and Trust and Estate Litigation.
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Graham D. Douds

Graham’s focus is Trust & Estate Litigation, serving clients from Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara,...
Why Should You Choose Barr & Young Attorneys Law Firm?
  • In his 25-year career, Gordon Young has tried or arbitrated over 75 cases to conclusion.
  • In his 22nd year of practice, Loren Barr has been certified by the State Bar of California as a Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law since 2004.
  • We will return your initial call or email inquiry within one hour.*
  • We have a team of six attorneys and one paralegal ready to respond immediately.
  • Gordon Young has been a Northern California Super Lawyer every year since 2007, and Loren Barr every year since 2008.
REQUEST A FREE CONSULTATIONWe will return your call in 60 minutes*
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How Can Our Probate Attorneys Help You?

Probate is a court supervised process of administering a decedent’s estate after they die. Although probate has become less common with the widespread use of living trusts (a probate is generally unnecessary if the decedent had a living trust), when a probate is necessary, our probate attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable about all aspects of the probate process.

Probate begins with a pleading called a Petition for Probate and Appointment of a Probate Personal Representative. In this pleading the petitioner (usually the person nominated as the executor in the will, asks the court to appoint them as the personal representative of the estate. The petitioner must send a copy of the petition to all the people named in the will and all the decedent’s heirs. If there are no objections from the beneficiaries, the person nominated by the decedent is usually appointed as executor at the first hearing. Once the order appointing the executor is signed, the order is filed with the clerk and the clerk issues the executor documents called “Letters of Administration.” These court-certified documents grant the executor the power to act. Unless the will states that a bond is not required, the executor must obtain a bond and file it with the clerk before letters are issued.

Our probate attorneys are ready to guide you through this process with patience and expertise.

Once letters have issued, the executor may marshal the assets, pay creditors claims, sell real estate, publish a notice to creditors to cut off claims by unknown creditors, have property appraised, and file an inventory and appraisal. The inventory an appraisal is an important step because it identifies all the assets in the estate and the value of each asset. Once the inventory and appraisal is approved, the executor can move to the final stage, which is a petition for approval and final discharge. In this pleading, the executor confirms that all creditors have been paid, no taxes are due, and the estate can be closed. If there are no objections, the petition will typically be approved.

Probate can be a tedious and frustrating process, and it is usually avoided by using a living trust. In the best circumstances, a probate takes about nine months. The fees to the attorney and the executor are determined on a graduated scale listed in Probate Code 10800-10810. Probate attorneys often generalize that the probate fees are about 3% each for the executor and the attorney. Our probate attorneys are ready to guide you through this process with patience and expertise.

Our probate attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable about all aspects of the probate process.

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Our Blog

January 14, 2019
The Wells Process in Securities Enforcement Actions
At the conclusion of an enforcement investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and...
October 29, 2018
Four Things To Know About Testifying
You’ve just been served with a subpoena to testify at a deposition. A regulator has...
October 10, 2018
Probate Code 16004.5: Release of Trustee’s Liability
The last steps in a trust administration include: Filing the final income tax return Obtaining an estate...