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The 8 stages of Trust and Estate Litigation

November 14th, 2017

REQUEST A FREE CONSULTATION → [/column_1] Most of our clients have never been involved in a lawsuit, so when we represent new clients in litigation we inform them of what to expect throughout the case. Each case is unique, but the observation of one of our colleagues about trust and estate litigation seems generally true….

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SEC Enforcement Actions Against Advisers is on the Decline

December 5th, 2017

The Investment News reported this week that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has relaxed its enforcement of investment advisers under the Trump administration. In 2017 the SEC investigated 82 standalone cases against advisers and firms, compared to 98 the previous year. Enforcement actions filed by the SEC in 2017 totaled 754 cases, 114 fewer…

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Online Estate Planning Programs

December 5th, 2017

For many young parents this scenario is familiar: You and your spouse are flying across the country for some family event—a wedding, the death of a relative—and you’re leaving your infant child behind.  A few days before departure you wonder what happens if the plane goes down.  Who will inherit your estate or be your…

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Electronic Wills: A Bad Idea From Across the Pond

December 5th, 2017

Proposed Inheritance Law Update We are big fans of our brothers across the Atlantic—the pint, the pub, the pound, the princess.  But every now and then, the British contrive an idea that shouldn’t be exported (taxation without representation comes to mind).  Recently, some United Kingdom lawyers proposed an update to inheritance laws that would allow…

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The Labor Department’s New Fiduciary Rule: How It Can Affect You

November 20th, 2017

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the Labor Department’s new fiduciary rule that protects retirement investors from conflicts of interest.  The new rule requires financial advisers and brokers to put the client’s best interest first. Previously, the “suitability” standard required advisers to recommend investments that suited a client’s needs but were not necessarily in…

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The Global Economy in 2007 and 2017

November 20th, 2017

 “Just how red-hot is the current worldwide expansion? ‘This is far and away the strongest global economy I’ve seen in my business lifetime,’ U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson declared on a recent visit to Fortune’s offices.” If you weren’t up on current events, and you didn’t know that Hank Paulson’s tenure as U.S. Treasury Secretary ended…

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Arbitrations v. Class Actions

November 20th, 2017

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently finalized a controversial rule that prohibits financial-service companies from including arbitration clauses in their contracts with consumers that block those consumers from joining class action lawsuits. The rule stops short of prohibiting all arbitration clauses. According to the CFPB, “the new rule will deter wrongdoing by restoring consumers’ right…

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FINRA Increased 2016 Operating Revenue With Record Fines

November 20th, 2017

Investment News reported last week that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) operating revenue decreased while its income from fines nearly doubled in 2016. FINRA made up for a 6% decrease in operating revenue with $173.6 million in income from fines, up from $93.8 million in 2015. FINRA’s members are understandably concerned by these increasing…

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Two Problems with Trump’s Estate Tax Proposal: Reconciliation and Carryover Basis

November 20th, 2017

In April, President Trump proposed a tax plan that, among other cuts, eliminates the estate tax altogether.  The current federal estate tax is 40% on estates exceeding $5.49 million.  While ending the tax might seem beneficial at face value, it could have serious implications for estate planning and end-of-life decision making.  There are two problems…

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Salvador Dalí

November 20th, 2017

This week the Telegraph reported that Salvador Dalí’s body will be exhumed as part of a lawsuit involving his purported illegitimate daughter and her claim to his estate.  Pilar Abel Martínez, a psychic fortune-teller and resident of Dalí’s hometown, Figueres, Spain, has claimed since 2007 that she is the artist’s forgotten daughter.  According to Ms….

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The Limited Effectiveness of “No Contest” Clauses in California Trust & Estate Litigation

June 12th, 2017

One of the biggest misconceptions in California trust litigation concerns the effectiveness of no contest clauses.  This article explains no contest clauses and their limited effectiveness in California trust and estate litigation. _________________ A “no contest clause,” according to California Probate Code section 21310(c), is “a provision in an otherwise valid instrument that, if enforced, would…

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Recent Increases in Margin Debt Foreshadow a Rise in Securities Litigation

November 20th, 2017

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the use of margin debt has increased substantially with the recent run-up of the equity markets following the Trump presidential election.  Traditionally, margin refers to borrowing money from a broker to purchase stock or other securities.  More broadly, it is a reference to any borrowing associated with securities…

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Butler v. LeBouef

May 5th, 2017

The ominous opening sentences of the court’s opinion in Butler v. LeBouef (2016 Cal. App. LEXIS 480) foreshadow a case study in how an unscrupulous estate planning attorney can influence and manipulate an elderly and infirm client. “An ethical estate planning attorney will plan for his client, not for himself. A license to practice law…

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Three Ways to Get Disinherited

March 29th, 2017

As trust and estate litigation attorneys, we have been involved in many will and trust contests in which parents have disinherited one or more of their children.  As estate planners, our experience is that children are usually disinherited because they are estranged or have a persistent drug or alcohol problem.  In these circumstances, the disinheritance…

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FINRA’s Annual Regulatory and Examination Priorities Letter Highlights High-Risk Brokers

February 21st, 2017

Every year, FINRA publishes its Annual Regulatory and Examination Priorities Letter to help its members understand where FINRA intends to focus its reviews during the coming year.  The letter is a must-read for FINRA members, compliance personal, supervisors, and those who provide advice about regulatory exams and related litigation. Among the issues discussed in the…

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Tax Changes 2017

November 20th, 2017

The start of a new year is a good time to consider upcoming changes in the tax laws that may affect your estate planning in 2017. The federal estate tax exemption is increasing slightly in 2017.  Estates of individual decedents who pass away in 2017 will be exempt from federal estate taxes up to $5,490,000,…

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NFL Players Sacked by Investment Fraud

February 21st, 2017

On October 23, 2016, CBS’s 60 Minutes ran an informative piece on investment fraud suffered by current and former NFL players at the hands of a financial advisor.  According to 60 Minutes, the players invested a total of $51 million in a gambling development in Alabama called Country Crossing.  Country Crossing was designed to lure…

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529 Plan

February 21st, 2017

Families with college bound children face the hurdle of paying for tuition, books, room and board, and other expenses.  While there are many savings options, one of the most popular is the “529 plan.”  This article discusses 529 plans and how they can help with estate planning and saving for college. A 529 plan is…

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