Another year is in the books and it’s time to look back at the best of our law blog for the year.  We have had another great year and great feedback from people who read (and apparently enjoy) this blog.  We love giving out good information, so your comments and feedback are always welcome.  In fact, if you ever have any topics you would like more information on, feel free to email me at and I will try to include it in a future blog post.

Happy New Year 2014!

As for 2013, here are the best posts of the year based on your feedback:

  1. Pardon our Probate Fees: Written Fees Agreements not required in probate estates.  This has been a big year for appellate decisions dealing with California Trust and Will issues.  In this case the appellate court held that lawyers do NOT need a written fee agreement to be paid probate fees (contrary to any other type of attorneys fees where a written agreement is mandatory).  Buyer (or executor) beware of this one!!
  2. The Settlor Made Me Do It Part 2.  The age old defense—the Settlor made me do it—is challenged in this California Supreme Court decision.  Wait, did I say Supreme Court—they never hand down opinions on trust and will matters?  Yes, the highest Court in California weighs in on a California Trust dispute (very exciting).
  3. In Trusts We Trust.  This post discusses why you should do some basic estate planning.  I can’t tell you how many times people argue with me about doing basic estate planning, so I have stopped arguing back (you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him sign a revocable, living trust).  Heck, lawyers make far more money on estates that are not properly planned, so no planning is fine with me.  But if you are still interested in estate planning, then this post gives you an idea of the process.
  4. Abused Trust Beneficiaries.  A few years back we started using the term “abused trust beneficiaries” because that is what we saw in our practice—Trustees running roughshod over beneficiaries.  And since the Trustees have all the money, and the beneficiaries don’t, it’s all too easy to abuse beneficiaries.  Well we don’t like it, so we made it a part of our practice to defend abused beneficiaries.
  5. A Family Affair.  There is not a week that goes by that someone does not ask me about how the law pertains to their family and their assets.  This post was designed to explain how the law sees your family…very different from how you may see your family.  This is a must read for anyone about to enter the Trust and Will litigation world.
  6. Time to Account: How to obtain a Trust accounting.  If you are a Trust beneficiary and you want an accounting, why don’t you have one in hand?  Because the Trustee won’t give you an accounting?  It happens all the time.  This post describes how to go about obtaining a Trust accounting when the Trustee refuses to do so voluntarily.
  7. The Difficult Path of Trustee Removal.  There are good Trustees and then there are bad Trustees—how do you remove a bad one?  Not so easy, but not impossible either.  This video gives some idea of that process.
  8. The Eyes are the Window to the Diagnosis for Alzheimer’s Disease.  This is fascinating research that indicates it may be possible to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease by looking into someone’s eyes.  This has huge ramifications in the Trust and Will world where incapacity due to Alzheimer’s is critically important in Trust and Will contest cases.
  9. Good Lawyers Sometimes Lose Tough Cases, And Great Lawyers Lose More Often.  If you are going to stand up and fight for people (as lawyers are supposed to do) you have to expect to get a bloody nose every now and then.  Fighting is not easy, if it were they wouldn’t call it a fight.  This post describes how the more you stand up and fight, the more you can lose.  But the more you can win too—so let’s fight on!
  10. When is Your Capacity Kaput?  Many people who lack capacity simply don’t know it.  That makes sense, but what do you do about it if you are a family member who wants to help?  This popular post discusses some ideas on how to proceed.
  11. The Crazy World of Trust and Will Capacity in California.  There are different levels of capacity in California, and they get a bit confusing as the Court’s vacillates back and forth on which capacity standard to use in different scenarios.  This video describes some of the finer points of Trust and Will capacity.
  12. California Financial Elder Abuse.  This is a growing problem that is likely to get worse before it gets better.  The physical and financial abuse of elders is an epidemic.  You have to be on guard for this type of activity.

There it is, our top 13 articles for 2013.  Now it’s time to look forward to a happy and productive 2014.

Happy New Year!!