On April 21, 2016, Prince was found dead at his Paisley Park complex in Minnesota from an accidental overdose. With no recognized Will or established Trust, Prince left behind an estate valued between $100 – $300 million.  This estimate does not include: current and future income, including royalties from music sales after Prince’s death tickets sales…

Litigation is expensive. Although every case is different, it is not uncommon for a case that runs through trial to cost each side hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees.  As a result, a litigant should always evaluate whether he or she may have a right to recover their attorney’s fees if a case…

One of the unique aspects of trust, estate, and conservatorship litigation is the fiduciary duties that one party often owes to an opposing party. These arcane terms —“fiduciary” and “fiduciary duty”— are rarely heard in everyday conversation, and yet as soon as one has the misfortune of being involved in a trust or will dispute,…

Many estate and trust litigation cases could be avoided if non-professional trustees understood the benefits of preparing a trust accounting. The Role of Trustee Trustees must make the beneficiaries aware of the existence of the trust, keep them informed of the administration, and respond to their reasonable requests for information.  The duty to account is more…

In the midst of a trust contest or other trust-related litigation, it’s easy for trustees to forget that their duties to the contesting beneficiaries continue notwithstanding the ongoing litigation.  A trustee might assume his or her position and immediately face litigation (a demand for an accounting, an emergency conservatorship, or a challenge to the trust,…

When we represent trustees, and particularly when some aspect of the trust administration may be disputed, we often advise them to manage the beneficiaries’ expectations about when they will receive their inheritance.  Many people, having heard that living trusts avoid probate, assume that a trust administration is simple, and that the trust property somehow passes…

Although most trust, estate, and elder abuse cases eventually settle, we prepare each case as if it will go to trial.  All of the stages previously described in this series (from initial research through discovery and expert witness depositions) have the same objective — presenting the best possible case at trial. Trust and estate cases…

Preparing for trial in an estate or trust litigation case can be an intense and time consuming process for attorneys and clients.  Although preparing for trial begins the moment we are retained, the process intensifies in the last few weeks before trial as the evidence accumulated during the discovery process is marshaled and organized into…

Expert witness depositions are part of the discovery stage of litigation, but they deserve special attention due to their high cost and particular prominence in California trust and estate litigation.  While the discovery process ends with a “discovery cut-off” 30 days before trial, the expert discovery cut-off extends to 15 days before trial. Under California…

In February 2014, acclaimed American actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died at age 46 of an apparent drug overdose.  Hoffman was an extraordinary actor with an incredible range, having played author Truman Capote in Tru, a clever CIA operative in Charlie Wilsonʼs War, a Roman Catholic Priest in Doubt, a professional baseball manager in Moneyball, and…

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