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The Beneficiary's Corner®

With Keith & Stewart

Welcome to the beneficiary’s corner®, a place where abused beneficiaries can learn about their rights in California Trust and Will matters. Once you know what your rights are, you can take action to protect and fight for your inheritance.

Each course consists of three videos: The Facts, The Law, and The Talk. The Facts is a hypothetical scenario we will use to discuss the legal issue presented. The Law is a legal analysis provided by one of our partners. And the Talk is a roundhouse discussion with both Keith and Stewart where they discuss, and sometimes debate, the facts and legal issues.

The information provided on our website and in our videos are for general informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice about your specific legal matter.

    Course 1

    Is Your Trustee Risking Your Money?

    The first course in The Beneficiary’s Corner explains the basic ground rules of prudent trust investing and help beneficiaries understand how they may respond to situations involving a bad trustee. Using a hypothetical example, attorney Keith Davidson, a partner in Albertson & Davidson LLP, explains the laws that regulate trustee investing in California and best practices such as having a written Investor Policy Statement.

    A trustee must act prudently in making investment decisions and act with reasonable care, skill and caution. Keith Davidson and Stewart Albertson discuss the legal options available to hold your trustee accountable if you believe the trustee has violated his or her duties to manage the trust assets under the California Prudent Investor rule. These options may include writing the trustee a letter, asking the probate court to instruct the trustee to take certain steps, submitting an emergency petition seeking to have the trustee removed from managing the trust and filing a petition for damages against the trustee due to his or her mismanagement.

    View The Full Course On Trustee Investing

    Lesson 1: The Facts

    The Facts video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Facts: This video sets out the initial ground rules for Trust investing and discusses the fact scenario we will use in the next two lessons.

    Lesson 2: The Law

    the law video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Law: Listen to partner Stewart Albertson discuss his professional opinion of how to handle a Trustee who makes bad investment decisions. 

    Lesson 3: The Talk

    The Talk video | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Talk: Listen to Keith and Stewart discuss their differing views on how to handle a bad Trustee.

    Course 2

    How To Handle a Bad Trustee?

    The second series of videos explores the most important duties of a trustee and how to deal with an irresponsible trustee who has violated his fiduciary responsibilities. The important duties that a trustee must carry out include administering the terms of the trust as written, administering the trust to solely benefit the beneficiary and avoiding conflicts of interest and self-dealing.

    A hypothetical situation is laid out in which a beneficiary’s inheritance is held in a trust for five years after a parent’s death and managed by a financial advisor. The terms of the trust specify that it will pay the beneficiary’s medical expenses and support. In the hypothetical example, the beneficiary has recently become unemployed and needs help making monthly mortgage payments and covering health insurance expenses. The trustee makes highly questionable financial transactions involving the trust and will not return phone calls to discuss the administration of the trust. The trustee has violated the duty to avoid self-dealing and to manage the trust solely to benefit the beneficiary. Keith and Stewart discuss the legal options that a beneficiary has including sending a strongly worded letter to the trustee, hiring the least expensive attorney available to write a letter to the trustee or hiring a qualified attorney who handles trust and estate litigation to file for trustee suspension and removal.

    View The Full Course On Trustee Duties — The Top Three

    Lesson 1: The Facts

    The Facts video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Facts: This video sets out the initial ground rules for Trustee duties and discusses the fact scenario we will use in the next two lessons.

    Lesson 2: The Law

    the law video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Law: Listen to partner Stewart Albertson discuss his professional opinion of how to handle a Trustee who breaches his Trustee duties.

    Lesson 3: The Talk

    The Talk video | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Talk: Listen to Keith and Stewart discuss their differing views on how to handle a bad Trustee.

    Course 3

    Who Destroyed Mom or Dad's Intentions?

    The third series of videos discusses financial elder abuse and how you can apply the legal concept of undue influence to bring a financial elder abuse lawsuit in California. The hypothetical situation involves a trust set up by a father to benefit equally his two adult children after his death. In this scenario, one sibling discovers after the father’s death that a new trust has been created just a few weeks before the father’s death that gives most of the assets to one child. The disinherited sibling suspects financial elder abuse on the part of the other sibling. Among the legal options that Keith and Stewart cover in this lesson are filing a trust contest claim in probate court to restore the trust estate, filing a financial elder abuse lawsuit or filing a civil lawsuit for intentional interference with an expected inheritance. They also cover who is entitled to bring a financial elder abuse claim in California.

    View The Full Course On California Undue Influence Claims

    Lesson 1: The Facts

    The Facts video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Facts: This video sets out the initial ground rules for undue influence claims and discusses the fact scenario we will use in the next two lessons.

    Lesson 2: The Law

    the law video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Law: Listen to partner Keith A. Davidson discuss his professional opinion of how to handle a California undue influence claim.

    Lesson 3: The Talk

    The Talk video | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Talk: Listen to Keith and Stewart discuss their differing views on how to handle a California undue influence claim.

    Course 4

    Who Wrote This Trust or Will?

    Course 4 explains your legal rights and options if you have been harmed by attorney malpractice. It covers the basic ground rules for establishing an attorney malpractice claim involving the creation or modification of a trust. You must show that the attorney owed a legal duty to a client or to a beneficiary, that the attorney violated that duty by making a mistake that a reasonably careful lawyer would not have made and that the error resulted in monetary damage to the client or beneficiary.

    The lesson discusses a hypothetical scenario in which a husband and wife establish a trust for their three children, then later make amendments to the trust that only the wife authorizes in writing because the husband is incapacitated. The lawyer who drew up the amendment failed to pay attention to the terms of the trust, which required the signatures of both husband and wife to make any changes to the trust. Because the lawyer only got one signature, that makes the amendment invalid, potentially costing the beneficiaries part of their inheritance. The law in California gives the intended beneficiaries of an estate plan a legal right to file a malpractice claim against an attorney who fails to meet the professional standard of care.

    View The Full Course On California Attorney Malpractice Lawsuits

    Lesson 1: The Facts

    The Facts video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Facts: This video sets out the initial ground rules for attorney malpractice claims and discusses the fact scenario we will use in the next two lessons.

    Lesson 2: The Law

    the law video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Law: Listen to partner Stewart Albertson’s opinion of how to handle a California attorney malpractice claim.

    Lesson 3: The Talk

    The Talk video | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Talk: Listen to Keith and Stewart discuss their differing views on how to handle a California attorney malpractice claim.

    Course 5

    Will You Lose Your Inheritance?

    This course reviews your rights and options when dealing with no contest clauses in California. Under existing law, California no contest clauses only apply to direct contests filed without probable cause, to a pleading that challenges the transfer of property and to the filing of a creditor’s claim.

    The lesson discusses a hypothetical situation in which a mother created an irrevocable trust that left her estate equally to her three children. The next year, the woman started showing signs of dementia and could no longer drive or handle her financial affairs. One daughter started helping her mother pay her bills and go to doctor’s appointments. Around the same time, a son moved back into the house with his mother because he had lost his job. The daughter noticed that money was being withdrawn from their mother’s bank account and confronted her brother, who became defensive. The brother eventually said his sister was no longer welcome in their mother’s home and took over their mother’s finances. After their mother died, it was discovered that the mother’s trust had been amended to benefit the one brother. The trust amendment contains a no contest clause, depriving the other children of any inheritance if they challenged the trust. The lesson underscores the importance of hiring an experienced lawyer who understands California trusts and estates law and knows how the law applies in various situations.

    In this lesson, Keith and Stewart discuss the options the other siblings have to fight for their inheritance. Among the options are filing a petition with the California probate court alleging that the trust amendment is invalid due to undue influence, filing a trust contest alleging lack of capacity or filing a civil lawsuit claiming the brother engaged in elder abuse. They discuss what constitutes elder financial abuse and explain how probable cause can be used as a defense against a no contest clause.

    View The Full Course On California No Contest Clauses

    Lesson 1: The Facts

    The Facts video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Facts: This videos sets out the basic rules for California No Contest clauses and the facts to be discussed in the next two videos.

    Lesson 2: The Law

    the law video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Law: Listen to partner Stewart Albertson provides his professional opinion on how to deal with a California No Contest clause found in a California Will or Trust.

    Lesson 3: The Talk

    The Talk video | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Talk: Stewart Albertson and Keith A. Davidson discusses their views on the options you have to deal with a California No Contest clause.

    Course 6

    How do I Obtain my Trust Assets?

    This course discusses situations involving a trustee’s failure to distribute the assets of a trust to beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust. The course covers the basics of California law regarding trust distributions and how the law applies to this issue. California probate law requires that a trustee distribute assets as specified by the trust document. A trustee may be given the discretion to make any distribution that he or she deems appropriate, in keeping with the purposes of the trust and according to fiduciary principles.

    Outlining the facts of a hypothetical situation, Keith and Stewart discuss the options that a beneficiary may have if confronted with the situation of a bad trustee who fails to make distributions according to the terms of the trust. The various legal options include demanding a detailed written accounting of all assets in the trust and expenses paid by the trust, filing a petition asking the court to require the trustee to account and distribute assets, filing a trustee removal petition and filing a petition for breach of trust. The failure of a trustee to distribute assets in a reasonable timeframe is a problem that frequently occurs. With the guidance of a knowledgeable California trust lawyer, a beneficiary may have several effective legal options to address the problem. The attorneys at Albertson & Davidson LLP can review the details of your trust distribution issue and discuss the best strategy for resolving the problem.

    View The Full Course On Failed Distributions

    Lesson 1: The Facts

    The Facts video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Facts: This video sets out the initial ground rules for Trust distributions and discusses the fact scenario we will use in the next two lessons.

    Lesson 2: The Law

    the law video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Law: Listen to partner Stewart Albertson discuss his professional opinion of how to handle a failed trust distribution.

    Lesson 3: The Talk

    The Talk video | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Talk: Listen to Keith and Stewart discuss their differing views on how to handle a California failed trust distribution.

    Course 7

    California Failed Trust Accountings

    This course discusses your options when a Trustee fails or refuses to account to a beneficiary. Most Trust documents will specify how and when Trust accountings are to be provided to the Trust beneficiaries.

    Unfortunately, some Trustees refuse to follow the Trust terms. This course will cover your options when a Trustee fails to prepare and provide beneficiaries with a Trust accounting. In these videos, partners Keith A. Davidson and Stewart Albertson discuss the options presented and their thoughts on how best to help an abused beneficiary who cannot obtain a proper Trust accounting.

    View The Full Course on Failed Trust Accountings

    Lesson 1: The Facts

    The Facts video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Facts: This video sets out the initial ground rules for Trust Accountings and discusses the fact scenario we will use in the next two lessons.

    Lesson 2: The Law

    the law video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Law: Listen to partner Keith Davidson discuss his professional opinion of how to handle a failed trust accounting.

    Lesson 3: The Talk

    The Talk video | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Talk: Listen to Keith and Stewart discuss their differing views on how to handle a California failed trust accounting.

    Course 8

    Abuse Involving the Following of Trust Terms

    This course discusses your options when a Trustee fails or refuses to follow the Trust document and make the distributions required under the Trust.

    Most Trust documents will specify how and when Trust distributions are supposed to be made. Unfortunately, some Trustees refuse to follow the Trust terms. This course will cover your options when a Trustee fails to follow the terms of your Trust. In these videos, partners Keith A. Davidson and Stewart Albertson discuss the options presented and their thoughts on how best to help an abused beneficiary who cannot force their Trustee to follow the Trust terms.

    View the Full Course of Failure to Follow the Trust Terms

    Lesson 1: The Facts

    The Facts video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Facts: This video sets out the initial ground rules for following trust terms and discusses the fact scenario we will use in the next two lessons.

    Lesson 2: The Law

    the law video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Law: Listen to partner Keith A. Davidson discuss his professional opinion of how to handle a Trustee who fails to follow trust terms.

    Lesson 3: The Talk

    The Talk video | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Talk: Listen to Keith and Stewart discuss their differing views on how to handle a Trustee’s failure to follow trust terms.

    Course 9

    Abuse Involving the Diversification of Trust Investments

    This course addresses a trustee’s failure to diversify trust investments as required under California’s Prudent Investor Act. As usual, let’s start with a basic understanding of the trust law we will apply to this problem.

    View the Full Course on the Diversification of Trust Assets

    The Facts

    The Facts video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Facts: This video sets out the initial ground rules for diversifying trust assets and discusses the fact scenario we will use in the next two lessons.

    The Law

    the law video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Law: Listen to partner Stewart R. Albertson discuss his professional opinion of how to handle a Trustee who fails to diversify trust assets.

    The Talk

    The Talk video | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Talk: Listen to Keith and Stewart discuss their differing views on how to handle a Trustee’s failure to follow trust terms.

    Course 10

    Abuse Involving the Fair Treatment of Beneficiaries

    What can you do to protect your beneficial rights when a trustee is favoring another beneficiary over you?

    In this course we will discuss a trustee’s failure to treat beneficiaries fairly, especially where the trustee is also a trust beneficiary.

    VIEW THE FULL COURSE ON THE FAIR TREATMENT OF BENEFICIARIES

    Lesson 1: The Facts

    The Facts video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Facts: This video sets out the initial ground rules for fair treatment of trust beneficiaries and discusses the fact scenario we will use in the next two lessons.

    Lesson 2: The Law

    the law video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Law: Listen to partner Stewart Albertson give his opinion on how to deal with a trustee who treats the beneficiaries unfairly. Stewart discusses the five options laid out in the facts video and determines which options he likes best.

    Lesson 3: The Talk

    The Talk video | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Talk: Listen to Partners Keith A. Davidson and Stewart Albertson discuss their views on how to handle a trustee who treats beneficiaries unfairly. They discuss the opinion that Stewart Albertson gave in lesson 2, and discuss how the options presented can be used to help a beneficiary.

    Course 11

    Family Owned Businesses

    This course discusses circumstances where the ownership of a family owned business is disputed after the death of the primary owner.

    In this course, Keith Davidson explains a hypothetical situation where two sons work at a business their father owns. Their father remarried before he started the new business. The sons are under the impression that when he passes away they will be owners of the business.  After the father’s death, it is discovered that the business is not covered in a will or trust and a dispute between the brothers and their father’s wife commences. Our firm offers several potential solutions to disagreements such as these in California cases in this course.

    VIEW THE FULL COURSE ON FAMILY OWNED BUSINESSES

    Lesson 1: The Facts

    The Facts video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Facts: The facts for our latest course on problems with family owned businesses. What can you do if your family business is not being given to the people who you think should own it?

    Lesson 2: The Law

    the law video button | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Law: In this video, partner Keith A. Davidson discusses his opinion on how to deal with problems that arise with family owned businesses once a parent dies. Keith covers the four options discussed in Lesson 1.

    Lesson 3: The Talk

    The Talk video | Albertson & Davidson, LLP

    The Talk: In the Talk, partners Keith A. Davidson and Stewart Albertson discuss their views on how to handle problems with the succession of a family owned business.