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Questions Answered by Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
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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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Probate for California on
Q: How is this my negligence when I went to record the deed and found all of this out from the recorder's office
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Sep 28, 2019

You should have recorded your deed right away, so that you had "staked your claim" for the public to see.

2 Answers | Asked in Civil Litigation, Contracts, Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for California on
Q: My mother and father signed a grant deed to our family home to me before mom died now my dad is trying to sell it

My parents were divorced and the house was moms. Father remarried another woman ten years ago . Hes claiming to be a widow his wife is alive and thats a lie. I am my mothers only child and rightful heir to her estate . My because my mom signed my grant deed to transfer my home to me and I found... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Sep 28, 2019

Was your grant deed ever filed with the County Recorder? If your deed is valid, then you need to have it recorded in order to show the world that you have clear title, and that your father does not.

When the title company goes to complete any transaction that your father makes, they will...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: My wife's father passed away about 3 years ago in Puerto Rico. We live in California.

Can we get a copy of the will? Is this public information?

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Sep 26, 2019

Yes, the information is public. Contact the Probate Court for the County where he died and they should be able to provide you with a copy.

2 Answers | Asked in Elder Law and Estate Planning for California on
Q: Have parent w/memory issues but won't go/talk to doctor for a diagnosis. How can we legally protect parent?

Parent can't remember where they are (at times) or how they got there. Incoherent conversation (mixes things up from the past & present or never happened). Threatens to leave and we won't be able to find them. Says ugly things to the family. Returns to familiar locations several times a week to... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Sep 26, 2019

You need a conservatorship. Your problem is that you need the parent to see a doctor to be evaluated before you can get a conservatorship.

Conservatorships take 4 months or so and can be little overwhelming. You need to convince the judge to take away this person's right to run their own...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Probate for California on
Q: My mom died without a will. I'm a only child have to go through probate for her house.Does my wife have rights to it.
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Sep 22, 2019

Yes, you need a Probate process (unless your mother used a special deed to pass you the house upon her death).

Dying without a Will is called dying intestate.

If you are the only child, and there is no husband, then you will inherit everything, but you need an order from the court...
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2 Answers | Asked in Contracts, Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: Do I have a right to view my parents family trust when one of them dies?

My mother died recently and my father claims she left me nothing. She gave me a signed copy of her California statutory will under the portion Balance of Assets she signed in the box I leave nothing to my spouse all to my decedents. As well as me as the executor. As well as a letter explaining that... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Sep 22, 2019

Under California Probate Code section 16061.5 the trustee has to provide all the heirs and beneficiaries a copy of the Trust. You should demand a copy in writing and if he refuses then it is time to go see a judge.

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1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law for California on
Q: How do I remove a conservator letting the telephone bill be unpaid resulting in it being turned off for 3 mos

2 of the 3 sisters are caretakers who have medical conservatorship but conservator has temporary financial conservatorship. Now the conservator wants to be made permanent.

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Sep 19, 2019

Probate Code 2650 allows the court to remove a non-performing conservator "continued failure to perform the duties"). Any friend of relative can petition the court for this.

Certainly if the conservator wants an "upgrade" to their status, anyone involved can appear at the court hearing...
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1 Answer | Asked in Family Law, Elder Law, Health Care Law and Juvenile Law for California on
Q: I just went to a IEP for 13 old developmentally delayed told to find out on conservitership. Need help & answers.

Do I need to do conservitership, at what time and for what reason since we are her natural parents?

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

You do not need a conservatorship until the child turns 18. The conservatorship then will allow you to still continue to make all of their decisions for them as you care for them. The process takes 3 or 4 months so start early. Many places can provide you with help at that time; here in San... Read more »

3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: How can you determine if a trust exists if both the creator and his attorney have passed away?

My father passed away about 10 months ago. He was divorced from my mother. Recently, my mother asked me if we (my husband, our three kids, answer I) had received the trusts that he had set up. My father had never mentioned, to me, that he had set up any trusts. My mom has said that she thought he... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Sep 16, 2019

Most attorneys pass their files on to another attorney when they retire. I would contact the attorney's family and see if they know what happened to the office files.

Look all around the house of course for anything with the word "trust" on it! Or the name of another attorney....
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: Satisfy wife that some of the estate is set aside to keep it away from a future woman.

For example perhaps some of the assets could be put into an account that could only be used for the care of the husband once all the other assets are spent.

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Aug 26, 2019

If I understand your question, you want to know how to protect your current wife either after your death or hers.

Many second marriages wind up cheating the children of the first marriage. Husband dies, everything goes to new wife who then leaves everything to her own children, forgetting...
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1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law for California on
Q: My mom is running out of money.She wants to stay at home.

Is there a way she or I can take out a loan on her home so she can stay? So we can pay her home health care workers come and have all her food and bills paid?She owns her home and she had given me her other home that I lived in for 15 years.My son has lived with her for 2 years and has been taking... Read more »

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Aug 20, 2019

There are different options.

Many people use a reverse mortgage to take money out of the value of their house. It is basically a loan with the house as collateral and you never make payments. You keep living there and in the end, the bank gets their money back, plus a bunch of interest,...
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2 Answers | Asked in Contracts, Real Estate Law, Elder Law and Probate for California on
Q: my mom left a will she split up the assets to me and my siblingshowever I wasnt told what my part was. My sis my trust

Sis wants to kick me out of the house i thought was mine given in will

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Aug 2, 2019

First you need to know what exactly the Will and/or the Trust left you.

If you do not have a copy of the Will, then ask the executor (in writing) and if you don't want to wait you can go the Probate court and get a copy (assuming that the Probate process was started).

If there was a...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: For a Will in the state of California do I have the option of 2 Witnesses or 1 Notary Public?

I prefer 2 Witnesses and a Notary but we are having a problem getting the 2 Witnesses.

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney answered on Jul 22, 2019

Here in California we do not notarize the signature. The rule is two witnesses or the entire will in the testator's hand writing.

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: California Our mother died and we don't know what claim we have to the house we lived in.

My grandmother had my mother and our family live in her paid off home since I was little. After Grandma died years ago, we continued to live there. My parents never married but my father pays/paid the property taxes every year. My mother suddenly died earlier this month and now an Uncle is trying... Read more »

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

It all depends on what grandmother's Will and your mother's Will said.

I suspect that neither had a Will. The answer, though it depends on the deed too, is probably that the house passed to your mother and her siblings (the uncle?) in equal shares and now uncle wants his share. That...
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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Elder Law for California on
Q: We live in an over 55 community with no HOA. What can we do about one person that's 34 yrs old here? Nuisance

The real estate company knew this! We have been inundated with loud music and pool parties!

And he's a bully to the residents because we're older!Please help!

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

Sadly, the rules that keep people 55 and under are not laws, but just an enforceable agreement among the owners.

Somewhere you have a Homeowners Association (HOA) that has a set of rules and covenants (CCRs).

Did they BUY or RENT? If renting then the HOA can enforce penalties...
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