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Frequently Asked Questions

Entrepreneurs, business entities and other people or entities often come to Hart Kienle Pentecost Attorneys at Law for answers to their questions about business, estate disputes and more. As a leading civil litigation firm, we have served clients throughout Southern California since 1982. We feel honored that we can provide knowledgeable, detailed answers to our clients’ most complex questions. On this page, we have compiled a list of some of the queries we hear most frequently.

How are business disputes resolved?

There are several methods for resolving business disputes. These include:

  1. Negotiation: The parties talk privately to arrive at a solution.
  2. Mediation: A neutral mediator helps the parties arrive at a compromise.
  3. Arbitration: An arbitrator issues a binding decision.
  4. Litigation: A judge or jury issues a legally binding verdict.

Most parties prefer to avoid litigation when possible, as it can cost a lot of money and take a long time. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) such as mediation helps everyone save time and keep the matter private and cost-efficient.

What type of information should be included in a contract and how is one formed?

Contracts come in many varieties. At the core, they should include basic facts about the agreement, such as:

  • The names of everyone involved
  • The beginning and end of the contract
  • Due dates for goods and services
  • Due dates for payment
  • Purchase or sale prices
  • The timeline for delivery of goods and services

A contract can also include the terms of how the signatories will handle breach of contract disputes – for example, through mandatory arbitration. Usually, the prospective parties sit down with their attorneys to have them draft a legally sound, fair document that satisfies everyone.

What does fiduciary duty mean?

The term fiduciary refers to someone who has an obligation to act on behalf of another person. Fiduciary duty refers to the fiduciary’s obligation to act in the best interests of that person. A trustee, for example, has a fiduciary duty to manage the trust accordingly for the beneficiary.

In what circumstance may real estate litigation be necessary?

If the parties involved in a real estate dispute cannot negotiate or mediate a mutually satisfactory solution and do not want to pursue arbitration, the final option is civil litigation.

What type of information should be included in a lease?

A standard lease should include the following:

  1. The occupants’ names
  2. The terms of tenancy
  3. The rental price (usually price per month)
  4. Description of the property
  5. Description of existing damage
  6. Any security deposits or other fees
  7. The landlord’s right to enter
  8. Maintenance policies

The more detailed the lease, the better the landlord’s and tenant’s expectations and understanding of their rights.

How are trust and estate disputes resolved?

Most parties can resolve trust and estate disputes through negotiations, mediation or arbitration. In complex conflicts or situations where the parties cannot agree, though, the strategy for resolution is litigation.

What are the most common reasons for trust and estate disputes?

Without a detailed estate plan, the decedent’s family members, beneficiaries and other interested parties often find themselves in a dispute. Some of these disputes involve:

  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Undue influence
  • Asset distribution
  • Inaccurate or fraudulent accounting
  • Mismanagement of assets
  • Failing to file tax returns

These are only a few common examples, as estate disputes can become immensely complicated.

What is a mechanic’s lien?

A mechanic’s lien is a type of claim that an individual or entity – often a general contractor or a subcontractor – can place on a home or other real estate property if they have not received payment for services rendered.

What are the best ways to avoid a dispute?

Proactive measures are the best way to prevent business disputes and other problems from arising. You can often avoid disputes through:

  • Partnership agreements
  • Shareholder agreements
  • Employment agreements
  • Clear contracts
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Trademarks
  • Copyrights
  • Patents
  • Noncompete agreements

However, even with these prevention techniques, disputes sometimes still arise. In these cases, strategic alternative dispute resolution methods can prevent a conflict from exacerbating.

What is the difference between a will and a trust?

A will is a simple legal document detailing how you want your assets distributed when you pass away. The document should provide guidance on property, financial assets and may also be used to name a legal guardian for any minor children.

A trust, on the other hand, is more complex in nature. Creating a trust is an arrangement in which you name a trustee to manage your assets. Trusts offer more control than wills, allowing you to specifically designate when and how the assets within your trust are distributed and who they are distributed to.

Trusts are generally more complicated and require more maintenance than wills. They do, however, offer greater privacy than wills as trusts are not required to go through probate and therefore do not become public record.

More Questions? Contact Hart Kienle Pentecost

These are likely only a few questions that you have about business, real estate, litigation and other issues on your mind. To receive detailed answers about your specific concern, please get in touch with us. Call our Santa Ana office at 714-432-8700 or send us an email to schedule an initial consultation.