Another year almost down means it’s time to reflect on what took place this year before looking forward to a happy and hopefully prosperous 2015 (that sounds weird).  Here is our pick of top 14 posts for 2014 based on the amount of feedback we received from each post.  Thank you all for reading our posts and we wish each of you an happy, health and prosperous 2015!

1.  California Trust Amendment vs. Trust Revocation–What’s the difference?  There are different ways in which you can amend a Trust versus revoking a Trust in California.  It pays to know the differnce between the two.

2.  A Better Standard for Undue Influence in California Trust and Will Cases.  This is a four part series detailing the newly enacted rule for proving Undue Influence in court.  The four parts include (1) vulnerability, (2) apparent authority, (3) actions and tactics, and (4) equity.

3.  Mickey Rooney’s Estate — Separate fact from fiction.  Whenever a big name celebrity dies there is always speculation about his or her estate.  The first news we hear is what their Will says.  Since all original Wills are required to be filed with the court, they become public documents after death.  But the Will only tells a portion of the story, and sometimes it is a very small portion.  Since so many assets pass now by Trust, joint tenancy, beneficiary designation and the like, the Will may have nothing to do with the overall value of a person’s estate.  But the speculation continues…

4.  When Planning Fails: Casey Kasem’s Lessons for California Trust and Wills.  Here’s another celebrity story in the news, this one describing an all to familiar scenario: new spouse vs. old kids.  Anytime a new spouse is in the picture, the time is ripe for a disagreement.  And when an elder loses the ability to manage themselves, the fight heats up over who controls the elder.  This tragic story was played out on a public stage in the case of Mr. Kasum.

5.  Abused Trust Beneficiaries in California Trusts and Wills.  Every year we hear from hundreds of abused Trust and Will beneficiaries.  The need to hold fiduciaries accountable and insist that they follow their fiduciary duties is growing year by year.  But first, you have to know if you are being abused.

6.  Broken Promises: Are Oral Promises to Make a California Trust or Will Enforceable?  Spoiler alert: the answer is a definite yes.  But you have to act fast if you want to enforce that promise because the statute of limitations runs within a year of a decedent’s death.  The clock is ticking, time to understand, and assert, your rights.

7.  Casey Kasem’s Missing Body…Who has the right to control your body after death?  Unfortunately, the saga of Mr. Kasem continued after his death as the new spouse and kids fight over the disposition of Mr. Kasem’s remains.  It is an ugly case faced by many people every year.  It pays to know who has control of your body after you’re gone.

8.  Money, Family, Love, and Wills: Where does it all end for Anna Nicole Smith’s estate?  You think your legal case has lasted too long, try going 19 years in litigation.  This year another part of the Anna Nicole Smith case came to an end, but not the entire case.  Even though all of the principal parties are dead, the case lives on.

9.  How to Use a Financial Elder Abuse Claim in Your California Trust or Will Contest.  The law of Financial Elder Abuse took a big leap forward in Trust and Will actions with the unification of Undue Influence.  The same definition for undue influence now applies to both Trust and Will actions and Financial Elder Abuse claims.  That means in a majority of cases you can now bring both claims in one lawsuit.

10.  Trustee Surcharges: Holding Trustee’s Liable for Bad Acts.  When a Trustee breaches his duty of Trust, he can be held personally liable for the damage caused.  This is referring to as a Trustee surcharge.  In this video we hear Stewart Albertson discuss some of the interesting points of a Trustee surcharge.

11.  From A to Zeal: What it takes to win your California Trust or Will lawsuit.  I must admit this is my personal favorite.  The idea of handling a client’s case with energy and enthusiasm is what gets us up out of bed every morning.  And it just happens to increase the chances for success.  It works for everyone.

12.  How Long Will it Last? A California Trust or Will contest can take some time….  Welcome to our court system.  What used to be a slow system got even slower with the recent budget crunch, which took over $500 million (yes, that’s half a billion dollars) out of the court system.  Why does it take so long?  A little constitutional requirement of undue influence.

13.  Whatever Happened to “You Broke It, You Buy It?”  Why California Trust law won’t give you no satisfaction….  While a Trustee might be liable for any money damages caused to a Trust, there is no concept to reimburse you for your emotional damage, pain and suffering, or any other type of related damage.  Might be surprising, but better to know beforehand what damages you can get.

14.  Can You Ex-Spouse Inherit Your Property in California?  Maybe.  Sounds disturbing to know your ex may be able to inherit your property?  You should know the law, and then plan accordingly.  Especially when it comes to life insurance: CHANGE YOUR BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS!  It takes so little time to plan properly, yet it makes a world of difference if done properly.

There you have it our top 14 blog post for 2014.  Hope you enjoy them and all of our posts.  We look forward to bringing you more usefully and interests Trust and Will litigation information next year.

Happy New Year!!