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Questions Answered by Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: If I reside in California but my family all live in Pennsylvania, in what state should I make out a Will?

I am a 50 year old woman living in California. I never married, have no kids and minimal assets (I own my car and have about $1000 in the bank). Both of my parents and my siblings all live in Pennsylvania. I'm starting the process of "getting my affairs in order" and think the first... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Jul 27, 2020

California. You live here and that is where the Will would be Probated.

Your estate sounds like it would use Simplified Probate (less than $160,000 and no real estate) so the Will won't go thorugh "real" Probate anyway.

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4 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Insurance Bad Faith and Probate for California on
Q: Is a son or daughter of a beneficiary of a life insurance policy entitled to the proceeds if the the benefiary dies?

And son or daughter is not listed as a beneficiary on the policy?

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Jul 26, 2020

The money goes to the estate of the deceased beneficiary. Then it is distributed based on their Will or the law (if they died without one).

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: I have a question about the retirement account of a deceased spouse.

In 2001 I married xxx, and she took my name. She died of leukemia in 2005. She had no will, but also no significant property so whatever she had just came to me. From time to time over the years I’ve received mail addressed to xxx from the IBEW (she had been an electrician at one time before I... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Jul 24, 2020

First of all, tell Fidelity that she passed away. If it was a retirmenet account then there is a beneficiary named by her and Fidelity will want to send that person the money; no fuss, no muss. If that person is NOT YOU then you might want to get angry if the money was earned during your... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: What is the process for appointing someone as a substitute in the case of property shares in a living trust?

My grandmother left her home to her five children in a living trust, and my mother and uncle are requesting to leave their shares to me. The property cannot be sold unless all five children agree to sell it, and currently my mother and uncle are living at the property with myself. They would like... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Jul 22, 2020

Is the property still held by the Trust? If it is, then only the Trust can say how it may be passed.

If the Trust closed down then the Trustee should have deeded the house to the five siblings; then if they want to pass you their 20% interest they can do so with a deed.

4 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: Adding beneficiary

Hello,

If i am adding a beneficiary to my trust and wish to assure them I will not remove them as beneficiary ever, is there a legal agreement that can be signed stating they and I must mutually agree before they can be removed?

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Jul 16, 2020

So you want to protect them from you ever changing your mind?

They only way I can think of doing that would be to have a new irrevocable trust (I am assuming your current one is a Living/Revocable Trust). As long as you are alive you can always change your Living Trust.

You could...
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3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: if a will says to split the assets but the asset is in another sibling name, does she have to honer the will?

the asset is a home that is now in my sisters name.

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Jul 16, 2020

I am afraid that if her name is on the asset, then it belongs to her and the Will had no control over it (unless the deceased's name is on the asset too, in which case it gets harder and depends on exactly how the names are on the paperwork).

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4 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: My brother lives with my elderly mother. She would like a letter stating he has to vacate the house in a certain time.

This would be after her passing.

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Jul 14, 2020

A letter won't do it because after her death, someone else will own the property and the letter won't have any power.

I am guessing that she wants him to be able to live there for X years, then the property will go to her heirs. That is done best in a Living Trust; it can also...
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3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: How can my mother can remove her husband as executor for her individual trust and designate me instead?

My mother has had her husband (my stepfather) as the executor to her individual trust for 30 years, but due to his dementia he is unable to handle the responsibility after her death. When I use the word executor I'm referring to the person who will manage my mom's trust and assets after... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Jun 18, 2020

If it is her trust, then she probably has the authority to fire the trustee. You have to read the trust.

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3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: My father passed away. No family member has shared the will to me. And they have filed paperwork. What can I do?

3 older sisters involved . I’m the youngest. And then there is the younger ,greedy widow.

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Jun 8, 2020

Go look up the documents.

Go to the Probate Court for the county where he lived and look him up. If there is a Will then it was filed there and you can see it. If not, then you will find out if the family has started other proceedings. If there is no Will, then you are entitled to a...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Tax Law for California on
Q: does the trust have to get a s.s. number and pay taxes every year?
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on May 23, 2020

You can make any trust into a Grantor Trust, where the original grantor (settlor; the guy with the money) just keeps paying the taxes himself on his 1040. Trusts have a very high tax rate so most people do it that way.

When the grantor dies (even of a Living Trust) then you have to get the...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: Elderly parents have 6 year old will and trust. Will a holographic codicil be o.k. in California to make changes?

The lawyer put himself as executor before heirs. Now they want to make an heir their executor. Also in their trust the lawyer is listed as a trustee. Do they need 3 separate codicils? One each for their wills and another for the trust? They don't want to spend money to do it all again.

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on May 11, 2020

Yes, the need to make formal changes to these documents, except to change a Trust you make an Amendment. So, they want two Codicils and a Trust Amendment.

If you are doing it yourself, be VERY careful to make sure you write exactly what you want with no ambiguity.

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: Can you transfer your trust from California to another state jurisdiction without a court order
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on May 8, 2020

Unless a Court created the Trust then you are free to do what you want with it.

But there is no reason to "transfer" a trust. Except for self-settled irrevocable trusts, they are all pretty much the same and the states will recognize the other.

I am not even sure how you...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: My son passed away last August. I paperwork with his company for insurance is complete. What are the next steps in CA?

I have not filed any paperwork with the state. There is NO property other than books, furniture, personal items etc. and his insurance.

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on May 5, 2020

If there is no Will and no Trust and nothing but some personal property, then you really have nothing to do except take his personal items and distribute them. You and his mother will have equal rights to the belonging. If there are bank accounts then you need to use the money to pay his bills,... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Family Law and Elder Law for California on
Q: Could I gain legal guardianship over my mother who has alzheimer's even though she's still married to my father?

My mother has alzheimer's and wanders out of her yard into the neighborhood but my father is in denial about her condition and puts her in dangerous situations. He refuses any help from the family. Is there a way where my brother or I could get legal guardianship over my mother?

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Apr 25, 2020

Conservatorship is a big step. It takes months, you need a doctor's opinion, and if your mother objects to it then you will not get it granted without a fight (a trial). If your father opposes it, then you have a different fight but still a family mess.

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3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: Can a legal assistant provide assistance with simple living trusts or will? Is it necessary to hire an attorney?
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Apr 21, 2020

For an unlicensed person to give you legal advice is against the law. There are services and on line sites that give you a way to draft your own documents but they don't give advice. You can even buy a book.

A Will is pretty simple until you start trying to account for asset...
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4 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: How can I insure that the property my husband and I aquired with my inheritance will go back to my family.

We have a 5 unit property that we purchase cash with my inheritance that I received from my mother in Austria. We have no children. We have a living trust, it is named in the trust, but we want it to go back to my family once my husband and I are gone. The way the trust reads is, that everything... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Apr 9, 2020

I wouldn't record it outside of the Trust because you would lose all the advantages the Trust provides (like avoiding Probate).

Just amend the Trust to read what you want instead of the "50-50" split you have now.

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3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: My uncle recently passed away and my sister & i live in his house and are both hiers to the estate.

Can the power of attorney evict us?

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Mar 30, 2020

No, the Power of Attorney was only valid while your uncle was alive.

The person with control over the property now is the Trustee (if it is in a Trust), or the Executor appointed by the Probate Court.

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2 Answers | Asked in Divorce, Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: My mother in law died and left my husband and I over $200k. She didn’t put my name on the account.

Before passing, she showed me how to access the account and that she was glad it would help us. My husband didn’t know about the account value until I told him about it after she died. His grief pushed him over the edge, he got a girlfriend and left me after obtaining this account. Divorce has... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Mar 20, 2020

If she never put your name on the account and never left it to you in a Will or Trust, then it belongs to him and him alone. Any inheritance like that is Separate Property and not Community Property, so you do not have any rights to it.

Sorry.

But if you are hiring a divorce...
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1 Answer | Asked in Family Law and Elder Law for California on
Q: Seeking conservatorship of dad, who's unable to communicate. He suffered a major stroke in March 2018. Veteran of USMC.

Had been in a Skilled Nursing Facility since the injury. But currently in Kindred Hospital Ontario. Waitng to be transferred back to Inland Valley Care in Pomona. Hopong to get him transferred to Lancaster, to be closer to home. He's receiving Military pension, VA Disability and Social... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Mar 18, 2020

Conservatorships come in two types: the person and the estate.

Conservatorship of the person allows you to make medical and personal decisions. Conservatorship of the estate allows you to handle his finances. Both take a few months to get (add an extra couple months due to the Corona...
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1 Answer | Asked in Communications Law and Elder Law for California on
Q: Had a good friend of over 20 years suddenly passed before we could discuss everything that needed to be done legally.

Was the contact and his emergency contact for him when in hospital. He was hospitalized since September 2019 & found out he had lung cancer as well as other GI problems. Went home on his birthday January 31st. He was getting stronger but I got sick and was unable to see him. Then I got busy... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Mar 11, 2020

No.

I am sorry but last wishes must be in writing, ether handwritten and signed or typed and witnessed.

Any assets that he left behind belong to his creditors and his family (even if they cannot be found). Eventually some asset search company will find this abandoned money and look...
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