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Probate Funding: A Useful Option for So Many

By John Freund |
Litigation Finance Primer

The following is a contributed article by Steven D. Schroeder, Esq., General Counsel/Sr. Vice President at Inheritance Funding Company, Inc. since 2004. 

There have been a few recent articles written on the topic of Probate Advances.[i] Probate Advances are available because a handful of companies are willing to assume a risk and provide funding in return for a partial assignment of a beneficiary’s interest in an Estate, and to a lesser extent Trust Proceedings. One critic has conflated Assignments to Loans without a fair analysis of the many differences between the two legal maxims.[ii] This 4-part series expands upon those differences and provides a legal and practical perspective as to why Probate Advances are a useful option for so many.

Why is Probate Funding Needed?

Probate Funding is growing in importance due to the increasing percentage of the population (i.e. baby boomers) who die annually and have their Estates and/or Trusts go through probate administration. In theory, the process of distributing a Decedent’s estate should not be complicated. But in practice, administration is rarely quick and easy. Even simple or uncontested Probate administrations take no less than eight (8) months to a year to finalize, while the vast majority of administrations of Probate or Trust Estates take much longer.

Due to funding and short staffing issues, many Courts set hearings months out even on uncontested petitions. Quite often, because of questions relating to the admissibility of a Will, the location of intestate heirs, and/or questions regarding those who may be an interested party, it can take a year just to have someone appointed personal representative.[iii] Moreover, once a Personal Representative is appointed, notice is required to be given to creditors which affords creditors anywhere from four (4) months to one (1) year to file a claim, depending upon the jurisdiction. Then, there is the tedious process of locating and marshalling bank accounts and investments, cleaning up and disposing a lifetime of possessions and/or marketing the Decedent’s real property. Rarely are homes sold within a year, even under the best market conditions. Some properties are occupied by holdover tenants or relatives. Even after the property is liquidated, the process of closing an estate through an accounting, setting a hearing and obtaining Court approval, can take many additional months even if the accounting is uncontested.

Because of the inherent delays of administration, some heirs, who have pressing financial needs (i.e. debts, foreclosure, rent payments, et. al.), are relieved to know that there is a product provided by Probate Funding Companies which can solve their personal financial problems while probate is ongoing.[iv] Whether the purpose of the funds is to prevent foreclosure, pay rent, pay medical bills, pay household debts or pay for continuing education, it makes simple economic sense that individuals would choose to minimize their risks by obtaining an advance now by assigning a fraction of their future and undetermined interest in an estate, rather than waiting for months or years to receive a distribution.

A Case for Probate Funding

Vivian Doris Tanner died in Shasta County, California on April 22, 1997. Her May 10, 1992 Will was admitted to probate by Order of the Probate Court on June 16, 1997 and her named Executor, Earl C. Tanner, Jr. was issued Letters Testamentary with full authority under the Independent Administration and Estate’s Act.  Pursuant to the Will, the named beneficiaries were Helen L. Tanner (20%), Marsha L. Tanner (20%), Katherine L. Courtemanche (20%), Erla Tanner (20%) and Earl C. Tanner (20%).

In February 2009, Robert Frey, an Attorney in Reno, Nevada contacted Inheritance Funding Company, Inc. (“IFC”) on behalf of his client Helen Tanner, a resident of Incline Village, because his client was experiencing hard times due to the crash of the real estate market. His client needed a significant influx of cash ($100,000.00 or more) in order to prevent the foreclosure of her properties while administration of her mother’s estate was pending.

The only remaining assets of the Estate at that time were the Decedent’s interest in Tanner Construction, Inc. which owned a 20% interest in the Dublin Land Company.  IFC was informed that there was ongoing litigation with the Dublin Land Company, including a partnership dissolution suit and a partition action set for trial in the latter portion of 2009. After completing its due diligence, IFC approved funding a $100,000.00 advance for Helen Tanner in consideration of a fixed sum Assignment in the amount of $192,000.00.[v] Shortly thereafter, two (2) other heirs (Marsha Tanner and Katherine Courtemanche) contacted IFC and applied for smaller cash advances, which were also approved.[vi]

During the course of administration, the Executor (Earl Tanner, Jr.) filed at least nine (9) annual status reports requesting continuances of administration until the litigation was resolved and the Dublin land was sold.  Finally, on or about November 23, 2017, the Third and Final Account and Report of the Executor was filed and set for hearing on December 11, 2017. The Account was approved, as were IFC’s three (3) Assignments, which were paid off in full on December 27, 2017, approximately nine (9) years after Ms. Tanner’s original $100,000.00 advance was funded.[vii]

The Tanner case and others like it illustrate the inherent risk in Probate Funding. It took IFC nearly a decade to collect its Assignments in the Tanner case, while in many other cases the funder never collects. With that risk of non-repayment in mind, we now turn to the legal distinctions between Assignments and Loans.

Comparing Assignments with Loans: Apples Are Not Oranges

As previously stated, there has been some recent criticism of the companies engaged in Probate funding.[viii] An Article entitled: “Probate Lending” started and ended with the premise that Probate Assignments are in fact disguised loans and should be regulated as such. Despite the predetermined conclusion by one author, in fact, the law treats Assignments and Loans quite differently and those distinctions are significant.[ix]

  1. What is an Assignment? 

An Assignment is a term that may comprehensively cover the transfer of legal title to any kind of property. Commercial Discount Co. v. Cowen (1941) 18 Cal. 2d 601, 614; see also In re: Kling (1919) 44 Cal. App. 267, 270, 186 P. 152. When valid consideration is given, the Assignee acquires no greater rights or title than what is assigned. In other words, the Assignee steps in the shoes of the Assignor’s rights, subject to any defenses that an obligor may have against Assignor, prior to Notice of Assignment. See Parker v. Funk (1921) 185 Cal. 347, 352, 197 P. 83.  See also Cal. Civil Code §1459; Cal. Code of Civil Procedure §369.

An Assignment may be oral or written and no special form is necessary provided that the transfer is clearly intended as a present assignment of interest by the Assignor. If only a part of the Assignor’s interest is transferred, it may nevertheless be enforced as an equitable Assignment. See McDaniel v. Maxwell, (1891) 21 Or. 202, 205, 27 P. 952.

It has been held that any expectancy may be assigned or renounced. SeePrudential Ins. Co. of America v. Broadhurst 157 Cal. App. 2d 375, 321 P. 2d 75. Similarly, a beneficiary may assign or otherwise transfer his or her interest in an Estate prior to distribution. See Gold et. al., Cal Civil Practice: Probate and Trust Proceedings (2005) §3:86, p. 3-78. Probate Assignments are those taken prior to the completion of probate administration for which an heir/beneficiary transfers a portion of his/her expected inheritance in the estate in consideration of a cash advance (i.e. the purchase price).

  1. What is a loan? 

A loan agreement is a contract between a borrower and a lender which governs the mutual promises made by each party. There are many types of loan agreements, including but not limited to: “home loans”, “equity loans”, “car loans”, “mortgage loan facilities agreements”, “revolvers”, “term loans” and “working capital loans” just to name a few.

In contrast to Assignments, loans do not transfer legal title and instead are contracts in which the borrower pays back money at a later date, together with accrued interest to the lender. A loan creates a debtor and creditor relationship that is not terminated until the sum borrowed plus the agreed upon interest is paid in full. Milana v. Credit Discount Co. (1945) 27 Cal. 2d 335, 163 P.2d.869. In order to constitute a loan, there must be a contract whereby the lender transfers a sum of money which the borrower agrees to repay absolutely; together with such additional sums as may be agreed upon for its use.[x]

The nature of a loan transaction, can be inferred from its objective characteristics. Such indicia include: presence or absence of debt instruments, collateral, interest provisions, repayment schedules or deadlines, book entries recording loan balances or interest, payments and any other attributes indicative of an enforceable obligation to repay the sums advance. Id, citing Fin Hay Realty Co. v. United States 398, F.2d 694, 696 (3d Circ. 1968).

Also, unlike Assignments, lenders typically insist upon several credit worthy factors prior to funding. For example, the “borrower” makes representations about his/her character including creditworthiness, cash flow and any collateral that he/she may pledge as security for a loan. These creditworthy representations are taken into consideration because the lender needs to determine under what terms, if any, they are prepared to loan money and whether the borrower has the wherewithal to pay it back, generally within a certain time frame.

In cases of Probate Assignments, an Advance Company rarely considers creditworthiness of the Assignee, because it is not he/she who is responsible to satisfy the obligation. That obligation falls upon the Estate or Trust fiduciary. In addition, Probate Assignments cannot be deemed to be a loan if the return is contingent on the happening of some future event, (i.e. Final Distribution). Altman v. Altman (Ch. 1950) 8 N.J. Super.301, 72 A.2d 536., Arneill Ranch v. Petit 64 Cal. App. 3d, 277, 134 Cal. Rptr. 456, 461-463 (Cal. Ct. App. 1976).  True Probate Assignments, executed in consideration of an advance, have no time limit for payment, nor do they accrue interest post-funding. Furthermore, an assignee is not required to make periodic interest payments and in the vast majority of cases no payment at all. Moreover, although loans are often secured against real property, Assignments in Probate should not be secured. Estate Property is generally not owned or distributed to the heir at the time the Assignment is executed.

A critical distinction between Probate Assignments and loans, is that when an Assignment is executed, there is no unconditional obligation that the Assigned amount be paid and/or when it might be paid. Once assigned, the Assignor owes no further obligation to the Assignee over those rights sold/assigned. And, the Assignee has no recourse against the Assignee/Heir should the heir’s distributive share be less that what he/she assigns. In other words, to “constitute [a] true loan [] there must have been, at the time the funds were transferred, an unconditional obligation on the part of the transferee to repay the money, and an unconditional intention on the part of the transferor to secure repayment.”  Geftman v. Comm’r 154 F3rd 61, 68 (3d Cir. 1998) quotingHaag v. Comm’r 88.T.C. 604, 615-16, 1987 WL 49288 aff’d 855 F. 2d 855 (8thCir. 1987).

Many jurisdictions in addition to California, recognize that the absolute right to repayment or some form of security for the debt as the defining characteristics of loan.[xi] While the structure and elements slightly vary, the following is a side by side comparison of some of the basic distinctions of loans and Assignments in Probate Funding:

LoansAssignments
Tenor: This is the time limit for repaying the loan as well as the interest rate charge.Tenor: No time limit for payment. No interest accrues.
Obligor on the Assignment: The Borrower is contractually obligated to repay.Assignee on the Assignment: Assignee/Heir does not pay anything.  A third party (i.e. administrator pays the Assignment.
Recourse: The Borrower is unconditionally obligated.Recourse: In absence of fraud, the Assignee has no recourse should his interest be less than what is assigned or even $0.00.
Interest Payment and Capitalization: The interest rate charge for the loan and time limit for interest payment. It also stipulates conditions under which unpaid Interest will be added to the outstanding loans.Interest Payment and Capitalization: Interest does not accrue post funding and the Assignment is fixed.
Penalties: Late payments are typically subject to penalties and/or trigger default.Penalties: No payments are due.  No Default deadlines for payment imposed on Assignee/Heir.
Creditworthiness: Essential for approvalCreditworthiness: Not essential
Default: Foreclosure is an option; a borrower could bear default.Default: No penalty no matter when Assignment is paid. Assignments are not secured. Foreclosure is not an option.

Moreover, given the uncertain time frame for recovery and absence of recourse against the Assignee/Heir, it would be impossible to assign an interest rate or make a Truth in Lending (“TILA”) disclosure, 15 U.S.C. §1601 (2012). Since the purpose of the TILA is to assure meaningful disclosure, the simplicity of an Assignment eliminates any necessity of making interest rate disclosures as required by interest bearing loans. When the Assignor sells a portion of his/her interest for a fixed sum Assignment, what additional disclosures are necessary?

In short, there are many significant differences between Probate Assignments and Loans. Courts and Legislatures throughout the country have recognized these distinctions and have considered them when regulating or providing necessary review over either product.

Probate Assignments are Adequately Regulated in California

In California, it is the exclusive jurisdiction of the Probate Court to determine entitlement for distribution, Cal. Probate Code §§11700-11705. Probate Courts may also apply equitable principles in fashioning remedies and granting relief in proceedings otherwise within its jurisdiction. Estate of Kraus(2010) 184 Cal. App 4th 103, 114, 108 Cal. Rptr. 3d 760, 768. Thus, even without a specific statute addressing assignments, Probate Courts in California, as well as other jurisdictions, have conducted oversight over the propriety of Assignments in Probate.  See In Re: Michels’s Estate 63 P. 2d 333, 334 (Cal. Dist. Ct. App. 1936).

For decades, the California Legislature has also regulated Assignments or Transfers by a beneficiary of an estate, see Cal. Probate Code §11604 (formerly Cal. Probate Code §1021.1). The validity of those statutes was well established. Estate of Boyd (1979) 98 Cal. App. 3d 125, 159 Cal. Rptr. 298, and the Courts have recognized the Probate Judge is empowered to give much stricter scrutiny to the fairness of consideration than would be the case under ordinary contract principals. Estate of Freeman (1965) 238 Cal. App., 2d 486, 488-89; 48 Cal. Rptr. 1.

The initial purpose of Probate Code Section 1021.1(followed by 11604), was to provide for judicial supervision of proportional assignments given by beneficiaries to so called “heir hunters” (Estate of Wright (2001) 90 Cal. App. 4th 228; Estate of Lund (1944) 65 Cal. App. 2d 151; 110 Cal Rptr. 183.  However, courts have since interpreted that these sections are not limited to that class and can also be applied to Assignees and Transferees generally. Estate of Peterson (1968) 259 Cal. App. 2d. 492, 506; 66 Cal Rptr. 629.

Despite the broad interpretation, California adopted additional legislation specifically directed to Probate Advance Companies. In 2006, the California Legislature enacted Probate Code Section 11604.5,[xii] to regulate companies (Probate Advance Companies) who are in the business of making cash advances in consideration of a partial Assignment of the heir’s interest. With the enactment of Section 11605.4, the California Legislature also made it abundantly clear that the transactions under this section are not those made in conformity with the California Finance Lenders Law.

Cal. Probate Code Section 11604.5

(a) This section applies when distribution from a decedent’s estate is made to a transferee for value who acquires any interest of a beneficiary in exchange for cash or other consideration.

(b) For purposes of this section, a transferee for value is a person who satisfies both of the following criteria:

(1) He or she purchases the interest from a beneficiary for consideration pursuant to a written agreement.

(2) He or she, directly or indirectly, regularly engages in the purchase of beneficial interests in estates for consideration.

(c) This section does not apply to any of the following:

(1) A transferee who is a beneficiary of the estate or a person who has a claim to distribution from the estate under another instrument or by intestate succession.

(2) A transferee who is either the registered domestic partner of the beneficiary, or is related by blood, marriage, or adoption to the beneficiary or the decedent.

(3) A transaction made in conformity with the California Finance Lenders Law (Division 9 (commencing with Section 22000) of the Financial Code) and subject to regulation by the Department of Business Oversight.

(4) A transferee who is engaged in the business of locating missing or unknown heirs and who acquires an interest from a beneficiary solely in exchange for providing information or services associated with locating the heir or beneficiary(emphasis added).

Although it is not specifically required under Probate Code Section 11604, the Legislature also imposed an affirmative obligation on Probate Assignees to promptly file and serve their Assignments, to ensure full disclosure to the representatives, the Courts and/or other interested parties.[xiii] Also, the legislature made it clear that unlike loans, Probate Assignments are non-recourse, meaning that the beneficiary faces no further obligation to the Assignee, absent fraud. As stated in 11604.5:

(f)“…(4) A provision permitting the transferee for value to have recourse against the beneficiary if the distribution from the estate in satisfaction of the beneficial interest is less than the beneficial interest assigned to the transferee for value, other than recourse for any expense or damage arising out of the material breach of the agreement or fraud by the beneficiary…” …(*emphasis added).

Moreover, in enacting PC 11604.5, the legislature specifically gave the Probate Court wide latitude in fashioning relief, when reviewing probate Assignments.

“… (g) The court on its own motion, or on the motion of the personal representative or other interested person, may inquire into the circumstances surrounding the execution of, and the consideration for, the written agreement to determine that the requirements of this section have been satisfied.

(h) The court may refuse to order distribution under the written agreement, or may order distribution on any terms that the court considers equitable, if the court finds that the transferee for value did not substantially comply with the requirements of this section, or if the court finds that any of the following conditions existed at the time of transfer:

(1) The fees, charges, or consideration paid or agreed to be paid by the beneficiary were grossly unreasonable.

(2) The transfer of the beneficial interest was obtained by duress, fraud, or undue influence.

(i) In addition to any remedy specified in this section, for any willful violation of the requirements of this section found to be committed in bad faith, the court may require the transferee for value to pay to the beneficiary up to twice the value paid for the assignment.

An Assignment under 11604.5 is Best Reviewed by the Local Probate Court 

At present, it does not appear that there has been a reported case interpreting an Assignment under Probate Section 11604.5, including whether the consideration paid was grossly unreasonable. However, there have been a long list of cases interpreting precisely that under Probate Code Section 11604 and Probate Code Section 1021.1) See Estate of Boyd, supra, 159 Cal. Rptr. 301-302; Molino v. Boldt (2008) 165 Cal. App. 4th 913, 81 Cal Rptr 3d. 512.

At the same time, it should be noted that there are distinct differences between Assignments given to Heir-Finders and those to Probate Advance Companies. One critical distinction is Probate Advance Companies, such as IFC, provide the Assignor with cash in consideration of a partial Assignment. On the other hand, Heir-Finders, take back a percentage of the Heir’s interest (typically 15% to 40%). Thus, the amount of fees incurred by the Assignee could vary widely depending on the amount the heir recovers. In most instances, the Assignment far exceeds the consideration given to a Probate Advance Company. Moreover, Heir-Finders often receive assignments from multiple heirs in one estate administration even though much of the work would be duplicated. On the other hand, Probate Funding Companies outlay cash consideration for every Assignment they receive. Thus, Probate Funding Companies take on an increased financial risk with every transaction.

Also, as in any industry, there are also significant distinctions among the practices of individual Probate Funding Companies including the disclosures they make to the Assignor/Heir. For example, IFC’s contracts, are limited to less than three (3) pages with no hidden fees or other costs tacked on the Assignment post-funding.[xiv]  The Assignee simply agrees to assign a fixed portion of his/her inheritance for a fixed sum of money.  In other words, a simple $X for $Y purchase.  Thus, it would be a fatal mistake to make a broad-based analysis based on the assumption that one size fits all when it comes to Probate Funding Companies. [xv]

Moreover, under Probate Code Section 11604.5, the Legislature has placed an affirmative burden on the Transferee (Probate Funding Companies) to file and serve their Assignments shortly after their execution. Hence, the terms are open reviewable by the Courts, Personal Representatives, Attorneys, other interested parties and/or to the public in general. Therefore, there is more than adequate opportunity for objections to be filed or for the Court to question the consideration given for an Assignment, sua sponte.

In short, the Legislature left the determination of what amount of fees, charges and other consideration would be deemed “grossly unreasonable” up to the particular Court where administration is ongoing, and to do so on a case by case basis if deemed necessary.   In fact, it is in the best interest for all concerned for the local Court to conduct inquiry if legitimate objections are raised, or on the Court’s own motion. In fact, on many occasions, IFC has responded to questions raised by various courts with regard to the Assignments it has filed and served.[xvi]

What are the Risks in Probate Funding? 

Similar to California Probate Code 11604, (formerly Cal. Probate Code 1021.1), the Legislature, in enacting Probate Code 11604.5, has specifically indicated that Assignments relative to Probate Advances will not be set aside unless it is clear that the consideration paid is “grossly unreasonable”, at the time the transaction was executed. In fact, the Probate Court can presume the validity of an Assignment, in the absence of any objection raised or evidence submitted to the contrary. See Lynch v. Cox. (1978) 83 Cal. App. 3rd 296, 147 Cal. Rptr. 861.

However, nothing in the Probate Code Sections 11604 or 11604.5 indicates a legislative intent to modify the law concerning the evaluation date to be utilized in appraising the fairness of a contract. In interpreting statutes, courts are required to do so in a manner which will produce a reasonable and not an absurd result. See Freedland v. Greco (1955) 45 Cal. 2d 462, 289 P.2d 463. Thus, in the absence of any evidence that the consideration received by the Assignor was grossly unreasonable, at the time received, the Assignee should be presumed to have had the benefit of all the protection the law provides. See Boyd v. Baker (1979) 98 Cal. App. 3rd 125, 159 Cal. Rptr. 298, 304.

Moreover, given that the Probate Funding Company has no assurance of recovery at the time the Assignment is executed, nor any recourse against the Assignor/Heir, it is imperative that the Court consider the many risks a Probate Advance Company assumes during administration.    The following are just a few examples of those risks:

*Mismanagement or conversion of Estate funds by the Personal Representative;

*Unanticipated claims, such as Medical, Medicaid, Uninsured Medical Hospital or Nursing Bills;

*Litigation, including but not limited to Will Contests, Property Disputes, Reimbursement Claims;

*Inaction or Delays by the Personal Representative and/or Probate Attorney;

*Previously unknown will discovered, disinheriting the Assignor;

*Spousal/Domestic Partner Support Claims;

*Tax Liability/Litigation;

*Partnership Dissolution;

*Foreclosure of Estate property;

*Child Support Liens;

*Unusually high extraordinary personal representative and/or Attorney Fee Claims;

*Devaluation of Real Estate Market (i.e. 2008);

*Bankruptcy by an heir;

*Litigation against the heir.

Alienation:  An Heir’s Right.

Clearly, the Probate court has the jurisdiction to review an Assignment under Probate Code §11604.5 and consider whether the consideration paid was “grossly unreasonable” at the time it was executed. See Estate of Wright (2001) 90 Cal. App.4th 228, 108 Cal. Rptr. 2d 572.  Yet, it must be remembered that an heir’s right to alienate his/her interest is an important one and should not be infringed upon in a random or desultory manner. See Gold, et. Cal Civil Practice: Probate and Trust Proceedings (2005) §3:86, p. 3-78. Conditions restraining alienation, when repugnant to the interest created are void. SeeCalifornia Civil Code §711.

In this vein, Courts should also consider the fact that the lion’s share of heirs who have obtained probate advances have done so out of their own free will, without solicitation and/or direct marketing.[xvii] Many heirs who research probate advances find that it is a preferred option to loans or other sources of funding, which take substantial time to qualify, require credit checks and extensive documentation and create personal obligations. Therefore, as long as terms of the Assignment are simple, straightforward and unambiguous – and it appears on its face that the Heir was given full disclosure and consented to the transaction – Courts should be hesitant to interfere with the Heirs’ right of alienations.

Conclusion

It is intellectually dishonest to ignore the obvious legal distinctions between Probate Assignments and Loans. Probate Funding Companies like IFC provide a valuable option for many heirs who would not be able to qualify for a traditional loan and/or do not wish to personally obligate themselves. Probate Funding Companies assume a myriad of risks while administration is pending with no guaranty of absolute repayment. In California, the Legislature has enacted Probate Code Section 11604.5 which governs the transfer of a beneficial interest in the form of an Assignment, and clearly distinguishes these transactions from loans. Further, that section affords the Probate Court all the authority it needs to review Assignments and determine whether, at the time the Assignment was given, the consideration paid was grossly unreasonable. In reviewing its terms, Courts must always consider an Heir’s inherent right of alienability. If fair disclosure was given by the Probate Advance Company, and it is found that the heir understood and consented to the Assignment, the Court should be very cautious in modifying the terms of an Assignment, ex post facto.

In part 1 of this series, we cited just one case of many which demonstrates why Probate Funding is a useful option for so many heirs, and a far better option than a recourse loan.  In that case, Ms. Tanner would have likely lost her house to foreclosure if it was not for the availability of the Probate Advance provided by IFC. In hindsight, Helen Tanner made a very good deal for herself – even if she had the ability to qualify for a loan, the cost to her over such a protracted period would have been significantly greater. On the other hand, the return for IFC, some nine (9) years later, was considerably less than ideal.

That being said, the end-result in Tanner was far better for IFC than in the numerous other Estates in which it has incurred significant losses through the years. Heirs/beneficiaries are fortunate that there are Companies willing to take risk and pay heirs a sum of money for a fixed Assignment during Probate administration with zero personal recourse against the heir.

Steven D. Schroeder has been General Counsel/Sr. Vice President at Inheritance Funding Company, Inc. since 2004. Active Attorney in good standing, licensed to practice before all Courts in the State of California since 1985 and a Registered Attorney with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 

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[i] Horton, David and Chandrasenkher, Andrea, Probate Lending (March 24, 2016). 126 Yale Law Journal. 102 (2016); Kidd, Jeremy, Clarifying the ‘Probate Lending’ Debate: A Response to Professors Horton and Chandrasekher(November 16, 2016). Available to SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2870615; Lloyd, Douglas B., Inheritance Funding: The Purchase of an Assignment From an Heir to a Probate or Trust, Litigation Finance Journal (October 31, 2017), http://litigationfinancejournal.com/inheritance-funding-purchase-assignment-her-probate-trust/.

[ii] Probate Lending, supra. Professors Horton and Chandrasekher, supra.  Article entitled ‘Probate Lending’.

[iii]  In many instances an executor or proposed administrator who is a family member cannot qualify for a bond.

[iv] IFC has been providing cash advances in the field for over 25 years.

[v] The Assignments included a negotiated provision for early payoff rebates which reduced the assigned amounts to $140,000.00 and $166,000.00 if paid off within 12 and 24 months respectively.

[vi] Marsha Tanner and Katherine Tanner each received advances in consideration of a $41,000.00 assignment and a lesser amount with early payoff rebates.

[vii] Helen Tanner’s net distributive share was $661,532.00, less IFC’s Assignment, and an unrelated promissory note she owed to estate.

[viii]  David Horton and Andrea Chandrasenkher, supra (2016) 126 Yale 105-107.  Professors Horton and Chandrasekher analogized Litigation Funding to the ancient doctrine of champerty even though acknowledging California has never recognized the doctrine, See e.g. Mathewson v. Fitch, 22 Cal. 86, 95 (1863).

[ix] The conclusions in Probate Lending were debunked, by Jeremy Kidd, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Law, Mercer, Probate Funding and the Litigation Funding Debate, See Wealth Strategies Journal, August 14, 2017.

[x] 47 C.J.S. Interest and Usury; Consumer Credit Section 123 (1982).

[xi] See In re Nelson’s Estate (1930) 211, Iowa 168; Dobb v. Yari, (NJ 1996), 927 F. Supp 814; Turcotte v. Trevino (1976) 544, S.W. 2d 463; quoting.47 C.J,S. Interest and Usury; Consumer Credit Section 123 (1982); Turcotte v. Trevino 544 S.W.2d 463 (1976), Cherokee Funding, LLC v. Ruth (2017) A17A0132; “…New York recognizes the absolute right of repayment or some form of security for the debt as the defining characteristic of a loan.   Its courts have explicitly stated that ‘[f]or a true loan it is essential to provide for repayment absolutely and all events or principal in some way to be secured…’ MoneyForLawsuits VLP v. Row No. 4:10-CV-11537]. Thus, a transaction that neither guarantees the lender an absolute right to repayment nor provides it with security for the debt is not a loan, and as a result, cannot be subject to New York’s usury laws…”   (emphasis added). “…In Brewer v. Brewer, 386 Md. 183, 196-197 (2005), the Court of Appeals held that “redistribution agreements are permissible and, so long as they comply with the requirements of basis contract law, neither the personal representative nor the court has any authority to disapprove or veto them.  See also In re: Garcelon’s Estate 38 P. 414, 415 (Cal. 1894), Haydon v. Eldred, 21 S. W.457, 458 (Ky 1929). See Massey vs. Inheritance Funding Company, Inc. Court of Appeals, 7th Dist (TX), 07-16-00148-CV.

[xii] IFC provided substantial input, counsel and proposed legislative language in response to California Senate Bill 390 which was enacted into law as Probate Code Section 11604.5 on January 1, 2006 regulating the Probate Funding industry in California. SB 390.Section 1 2015, Ch. 190 (AB 1517) Section 71

[xiii] Probate Code 11604 does not have a time limitation filing period reflected.

[xiv] Some Probate Advance Companies have charged interest or other fees post-funding.

[xv] See Probate Lending, supra, page 130, in which the author makes questionable statistical findings from one county during a limited period of time, with the assumption that each Probate Advance Company has the same terms and business practices.

[xvi] IFC has responded to multiple orders to show cause in California.

[xvii] Over 90% of heirs seek funding through IFC’s website, by other heirs who have already contracted with IFC, by lawyers or personal representatives.

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Legal-Bay Pre-Settlement Funding Announces Funding for Fireworks Injuries and Building Explosions

By Harry Moran |

Legal-Bay LLC, the premier Pre Settlement Funding Company, reports that they are seeing an uptick in lawsuits against negligent pyrotechnicians and residential homeowners in the wake of the 4th of July holiday. Fireworks injuries and property damages join the escalating lawsuits that have been filed due to building explosions at gas stations, chemical plants, and oil refineries, falling under such categories as worker's comp, premises liability, personal injury, wrongful death, and beyond.  

Explosion lawsuits are filed more often than one would think. Whether in a place of business or a residential property, danger lurks for victims of others' negligence. Accidental gas leaks or faulty propane tanks are probably the most well-known type of house or building explosion, but sometimes, negligent installation by inexperienced workers or business owners looking to cut corners can lead to disaster. Likewise, if a person is injured or their property is damaged by fireworks—whether from a professional show or a neighbor's backyard—they are entitled to compensation.

Explosion payouts obviously vary depending on the severity of the damage caused and extent of injuries. Just last year, for example, a New Jersey man who suffered severe burns from an explosion while working on an electrical panel in 2019 sued his employer for gross negligence. The man was instructed to work on the electric panel even though he was not a licensed electrician. The resulting explosion inflicted burns over half of his body, requiring over 100 surgeries and a lifetime of future care. He was awarded $28MM for pain, suffering, and loss of ability to earn a salary.

Chris Janish, CEO of Legal-Bay, commented, "Extreme explosions can result in chemical burns, broken bones, and sometimes even death, not to mention the environmental impact and property damage that can occur. Legal Bay stands at the ready to assist victims of any type of explosion get the money they have coming to them."If you or a loved one was seriously injured or killed in an explosion, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. To apply for a cash advance lawsuit loan from your anticipated lawsuit settlement, please visit the company's website HERE or call 877.571.0405 where agents are standing by to hear about your specific case. 

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Legal-Bay Lawsuit Funding Announces Increased Commitment to Product Liability Funding

By John Freund |

Legal-Bay LLC, The Lawsuit Pre Settlement Funding Company, announced today their newfound focus on product liability claims for plaintiffs and lawyers involved in ongoing mass tort litigations. Due to increasing product liability lawsuit loan requests, Legal-Bay has committed more capital to secure even more specialized lawsuit funding for the law firms and plaintiffs out there with product liability cases due to their complex and time-consuming nature.

Legal-Bay's knowledge of product liability lawsuits and experience with mass tort litigations for various products and defective products makes them the leading lawsuit funding firm to call for a complex product defect case involving defective products or product rejection. This experience, as well as Legal-Bay's overall capital, gives them the reputation of the best lawsuit funding firm that exists today.

The lawsuit loan company's team of experts studies each national litigation, often leading the legal funding industry on which cases to begin funding. Many other lawsuit loan companies and lawsuit cash advance places and loan companies do not fund these types of cases due to the complex and time-consuming nature. However, this is just part of why Legal-Bay remains so committed to helping people who have suffered as a result of a defective surgical product or medical device gone wrong, including those that migrate in the body or cause other long-term damage.

If you are wondering what to do when a large corporation will fight your case or if a large corporation or company is fighting your claim, don't hesitate to contact Legal-Bay today. To learn more about product liability lawsuit funding, product liability lawsuit claim loans, product liability lawsuit money, or defective product settlement funding amounts, please visit our new product liability funding site, at: https://lawsuitssettlementfunding.com/product-liability.php 

Currently, Legal-Bay is expanding their product liability wing as they review various product liability cases and product liability class action suits with national law firms for legal funding options.

Below is a list of just some of the product liability mass tort cases that Legal-Bay's team is actively monitoring or has funded in the past:

  • IVC Filter
  • Hernia Mesh
  • Exactech Implant Recall
  • Hip Implants
  • Knee Implants
  • CPAP Recall
  • Birth Control
  • JUUL E-Cigarettes
  • J&J Talc Products
  • Round Up Weed Killer
  • Medical Devices
  • 3M Ear Plugs
  • Paraquat
  • Just For Men Hair Products
  • Chemical Hair Straightener Products
  • Essure Birth Control IUD
  • Permanent Makeup Claim
  • Eyebrow Tint Claim
  • Essure Birth Control IUD
  • Allergen or Saline or Silicone Breast Implants

Legal-Bay is currently reviewing and assessing case worth or proposed settlement amounts for many other bad products or defective products not listed above.

Chris Janish, CEO commented on today's announcement, "Legal-Bay has been built on product liability funding.  We are the leading and best mass tort funding company in the country, in my sincere opinion.  We work with the top lawyers on each specific litigation, and see cases and litigations from start to finish.  We are a guiding light for many victims who may need guidance on a product liability attorney to choose, and funding for surgical needs due to defective product or legal funding just to pay bills.  We do it all and take substantial risk—unlike most other litigation finance companies—to help our clients and law firms alike." 

To learn more, or to receive a free case evaluation on your bad product claim or defective product suit claim, or if you are looking for a product liability lawyer or product liability law firm please visit Legal-Bay's new website built for these types of claims at: https://lawsuitssettlementfunding.com/product-liability.php 

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Level Acquires Tower Street Finance to Target Probate Lending Sector

By John Freund |

An article in ETF Express covers the announcement from Level, a family law and private client lender, that it has acquired Tower Street Finance in order to expand its presence in the probate lending sector. Level’s acquisition strategy is reportedly being guided by the growth in activity around probate lending, which is being fuelled by processing delays and individuals’ demand for third-party capital amid a difficult economic climate.

Commenting on the acquisition, Level’s founder and CEO, George Williamson said: “Tower Street Finance have been the standout market leader since pioneering the probate market in 2020, while Level has done the same in the family law market.  By combining Tower Street Finance’s unparalleled expertise and network in the probate market with our platform and trusted reputation, we have a significant advantage over our competitors.”

Jim Sission, co-founder of Tower Street Finance, will be joining Level alongside two of his employees. Sission said that the acquisition by Level brings together the two company’s expertise across family law and probate lending, and will create “a best-in-class platform for legal funding.”

In addition to the acquisition, Level also announced that it had secured another £10 million in outside investment, comprised of a £5 million equity capital investment from Kendal Capital and £5 million debt investment from Correlation Risk Partners. Kendal Capital’s CEO and co-founder, Grant Kurland will be joining Level’s board of advisers, which already includes notable industry names such as Neil Purslow, CIO of Therium Capital. Kurland said that “the combination of Level & TSF is well placed to capitalise on their respective market leading positions in the family and probate sectors.”