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Questions Answered by Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law, Probate and Estate Planning for California on
Q: My Lola's (grandma's) youngest son claims to have POA, will not allow my Lola and me to be together, Please reunite us.

POA is not Conservatorship, they are abusing POA. My Lola is my Valentine every single day, to keep us apart is cruel. When she asks for me and they don't allow me to see her, that is cruel and elder abuse. I used to be my Lola's 24/7 live-in care provider since her kids and grandkids are deadbeats... Read more »

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

If you think she is being abused then you need to report this to Adult Protective Services in your County.

If you want to fix the problem of her being isolated from you, then you can ask for a Restraining Order for Elder Abuse. Isolating the elder from loved ones is considered abuse under...
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1 Answer | Asked in Domestic Violence and Elder Law for California on
Q: I have a question regarding filling out the Request for Elder Abuse Restraining Order Form EA-100.

On QUESTION 5A (Description of Protect Person) of form EA-100 it asks if the person SEEKING a restraining order "is 65 or older and a resident of California".

In this scenario, the person whom the protection is AGAINST (in QUESTION 2) lives in CALIFORNIA; however, the person SEEKING... Read more »

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

Your question isn't quite clear.

If the victim (protected person) is in California then that is good and the questions are mostly about them.

Are you saying that the person requesting an order to protect our California elder is in NV? That is OK then, but you have to file where...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: My twin sister passed away and did not leave will. Does that assets go to the living parent? She lived in California.

There’s a half sister and one other sibling left. I live here in Dallas. She had no children.

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Feb 7, 2020

If she was not married and had no registered domestic partner, then her assets go to her parents.

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: Hello, my mother passed away in December 2017. she lived with me for the last 10 years of her life. She had no will.

she had $1,400 in her checking account when she passed. I recently received a letter from her bank stating that after three years they may transfer her property to the state of California. Can I get this money and how do I get it? Thank you very much.

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Jan 6, 2020

If that is all she had, then all you have to do is execute a small estate affidavit (Google one) stating that you are the sole heir (or have your siblings sign it too if you have any). Notarize it. Attach an original death certificate. Show that to the bank. No lawyers or judges needed.

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: My husband received a letter from fidelity investments expressing their sympathy over the loss of his ex girlfriend.

They asked for a copy of the death certificate to process a beneficiary claim. It doesn’t say specifically he is the beneficiary but this letter came 3 years after her death out of the blue. We sent fidelity the death certificate after getting it from the state of her death. We have heard nothing... Read more »

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

It sounds like he was still listed as a beneficiary on a 401K or IRA or something.

Don't be shy! Call Fidelity and ask for a status. They wouldn't have sent that form just for fun.

He wasn't married to her was he? Divorce automatically cancels naming your ex as a beneficiary....
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: Is there a form to put my real estate property into my living trust? How can I get the form?

My house is in Massachusetts.

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Dec 18, 2019

You just use a deed. The deed transfers the property from the current owners to You, Trustee of the You Trust, dated Whenever, 1905.

There might be an extra form to go with it and there will be a small fee. The county recorder there is Mass should have a web site to give instructions.

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for California on
Q: My brother and I own our condo. I still live there. If he dies, who gets ownership, me or does the wife get half??

He moved out when he got married..

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Dec 17, 2019

PROBABLY his wife.

Look at the deed. If it says you are "joint tenants" then it means you get it automatically on his death.

HOWEVER, if he paid for it with money after his got married, then that portion will belong to both him and his wife as community property so he may not have...
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4 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: Hello, my sister recently passed away. She was married but bore no children of her own. She did have two step sons that

she helped raise. I am trying to find out if she had a will. My question is this...does her part of her "estate" automatically go to her husband with or without a will? She had mentioned to me that she had intended to leave her "half" of her property to my children "her only niece and nephew." I... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Dec 1, 2019

If there is a Will then it has to be submitted to the Probate Court; it is a crime to hide one or destroy it (though probably impossible to prove that).

Contact the Probate Court for thee County where she lived and see if a Probate case has been opened. If there has, then you can view the...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Elder Law for California on
Q: Additional questions to: What is the cost of a POA in CA? My sister resides in CA, had a stroke in July, in rehab in CA.

Thank you for your previous answers. Ms. Whitehurst, what other "eventualities" are you referring to? And, Mr. Gaffney, so, is it necessary and/or advised to obtain a physician's letter stating she has "the mental capacity to understand what she is signing"? We are also awaiting approval for SSI... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Nov 14, 2019

If a person has some impairment, then you are right to worry that someone may later claim that they did not have the capacity to sign the document. We usually work the other way around (getting a doctor to say someone is incompetent), but I like your defensive thinking in making sure that she has... Read more »

3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for California on
Q: What is the cost of a durable POA in CA? My sister resides in CA. She had a stroke in July; now in rehab facility in CA.

I need to obtain a POA for her. I'm in Florida. The only assets she has, to my knowledge, are 2 cars (in CA), a bank account (in CA - don't know if anything is in at this point) and some land in FL (which she was considering selling before her stroke). She also as a list of credit card accounts. We... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Nov 13, 2019

If she is in California then you need to do it in California, because she has to sign the Power of Attorney in front of a notary.

The big question is: Does she have the mental capacity to understand what she is signing? If she cannot, then the PoA will do you no good and you need a...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: How to find out what is being done with my grandmas estate she died with out a will

My dad docent ask because he don't want his sister mad at him and the other brother which has money says he's taking care of it . How do I find out what is being done or not done

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Nov 9, 2019

If anything is being done then there should be a record of it at the Probate Court for your county.

If someone dies owning real estate or having assets over $150,000 then someone has to open a case with the Probate Court (generally), and those records are public.

If she had less...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: irrevocable trust questions it possible to attach some information regarding this irrevocable trust ? I need help under

i need help understand one of the paragraphs

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Nov 8, 2019

I don't know if you can upload it, but you can send it to me at jeffgaffney@earthlink.net.

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2 Answers | Asked in Elder Law for California on
Q: Can a home be sold without a joint owners agreement?

My father has Dementia and does not want his house sold..his wife's family listed it without his knowledge

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Oct 23, 2019

Not without some authority granted to the other owner. She would need to hold a conservatorship of him from a court, or a Power of Attorney that he signed when he still had the capacity to do so. If the house was held in a Trust, then the Trust might grant her authority over the property,... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: If a beneficiary on a savings account differs from those in a will ,which beneficiary prevails?
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Oct 19, 2019

Your terms are a bit mixed up.

A savings account does not have a beneficiary unless it is an IRA or 401K. You can name a "pay on death" person though. In either case, the bank paperwork will prevail, but try no to leave those kinds of confusing questions behind!

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: is there a way to get a copy of a will from the courts or something?
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Oct 17, 2019

Yes, once the Will has been filed ("lodged") with the Probate Court it becomes a public record. You can just go to the Probate Court in the county where the person died and look it up.

If the person is still alive, then no -- it is a private document and no one has any right to see it.

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: Thank you, Mr. Gaffney. It is an odd situation.

The plain answer is I don't know. That's why I called for a wellness check and Adult Protective Services. Last week I learned of her having signs of dementia a year ago. It was expressed to me by a family member that she may pass and no one finds out, and he would continue to collect her social... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Oct 14, 2019

Also look out for "undue influence" in changes to the Will or Trust, leaving everything to the brother. It may be reasonable if he took care of her, and if he is the neediest, but it can also be taking advantage of a sick old woman. Just keep an eye out.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: Who do you contact if the trustee won't communicate?

I appreciate your time and information, Mr Gaffney, thank you. I assume my brother is sole trustee. We have no relationship. I have gotten no response from mail or phone to my mother (I live in Kentucky, she lives in California). I have done a wellness check through the police. I have reported... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Oct 14, 2019

It is VERY unusual for any agency to have a copy of a trust. it is possible so you can check with the LA County Recorder's office, it is just never really done. The Trust company would be a better bet.

Are you worried that your brother is mistreating your mother? That will be a tough...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: Follow up

Thank you, Mr. Gaffney. So then my hope that the original trust from the 70s or 80s might be valid isn't a possibility? And because I didn't try to prove my father's inability to be of sound mind in 2002, that point would be mute? My understanding is that when she dies I should have access to... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Oct 14, 2019

The original trust might still be the controlling one if your dad did not have the capacity to change it. But maybe that trust gave your mom that authority if your dad was no longer able. You really have to see the trusts and read them, and compare that to your dad's health.

When your mom...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: How do you find the current status of a trust? And do I have any right to contest it?

In the late 70s or early 80s, my father told me that I was sole trustee of my parents living trust, and everything should be split equally between my brother and myself. I never saw that trust. In 2002, after years of my father's Alzheimer's (I have no medical records), my mother (and he) made a... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Oct 14, 2019

Well the problem is two part.

You have no rights at all to see your mother's new trust while she is alive. Upon her death then you will have the right to see it.

The other problem is that your mother probably had no right to change her trust after your dad died. In those old...
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3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Civil Rights, Elder Law and Probate for California on
Q: I'm about to sign POAs with my daughter for both health care and asset management. I trust her. But if she dies...

I'm doing estate planning. If she dies, and I become incapacitated, who decides that I am? And how would that decision be made?

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Oct 11, 2019

Check the forms you are signing. They should have a place for you to appoint a back-up person or two, who can take over if your daughter is unable or unwilling.

For Powers of Attorney this can be a little scary. I always write the Powers of Attorney to only be effective if my client is...
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