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California Estate Planning Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: In the state CA and AZ is a will and last testament valid if the executor is on federal probation in CA

My brother-in-law who resided in the state of Arizona what is originally from the state of California where his eldest brother live and it's also on federal probation was given his brothers last will and testament when he made a visit to California the last will and testament is signed by two... Read more »

David Ostrove
David Ostrove answered on May 30, 2020

The will should be filed in the county where the maker of the will resided at the time of his death. California, under your facts.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Family Law, Child Support and Probate for California on
Q: I need to collect child support via someone's inheritance, which is in probate. What forms would I use in California ?

Child support order is in place. Arrears is owed

Zaher Fallahi
Zaher Fallahi answered on May 26, 2020

Go to the county probate court’s Website, find the case information and the law firm’s contact information, and deliver the claim to them. The law firm must pay all valid liabilities before distributing the estate. Alternatively, contact the probate court and seek their help. I hope this helps.... Read more »

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?
James Edward Berge
James Edward Berge answered on May 23, 2020

In general, if the trust is revocable, no. The trust is identified for tax reporting purposes by the Social Security Number of the trustmaker and all trust income if any is reported on the trustmaker’s annual 1040 individual income tax return.

And in general, if the trust is irrevocable,...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Tax Law for California on
Q: My mother wants to gift my wife and I her house. She has under 1 million in assets. What are the tax considerations
Jonathan Purcell
Jonathan Purcell answered on May 21, 2020

There is a requirement to report gifts more than $15,000 per year on form 709.

The tax will be levied only if at the time of death, the combination of all lifetime gifts and donor's decedent estate, exceeds the the gift and estate tax exemption, then in effect, currently $11.58...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: This question is about a trust that my grandma had that I am a beneficiary of.

The trust was supposed to disperse money to me over a period of 10 years. I got the first installment 10 years ago and now I am supposed to get my second installment. My trust lawyer now says that he cant disperse all the money right now and needs to keep thousands of dollars just in case he gets... Read more »

James Edward Berge
James Edward Berge answered on May 20, 2020

Yes, it's quite common for a trustee to withhold a "reserve" from distribution to pay for known or anticipated debts, taxes and future expenses. The statute of limitations to audit an income tax return is up to 4 years (7 years if the audit indicates a substantial underpayment of... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: As a trustee to a 3rd Party Special Needs Trust, do I need insurance to protect me from the sibling of the beneficiary?

The trustor has two sons and will split her estate accordingly. One son get his outright, the other gets his in a Special Needs Trust, of which I will be the Trustee. My CPA is adamant I get insurance, but the beneficiary and the trustor both assure me there is no way I can be sued by the other... Read more »

James Edward Berge
James Edward Berge answered on May 14, 2020

While it might be a good idea in general to have fiduciary insurance while acting as an individual, non-professional, trustee of a special needs trust, I don't believe you'll find any policies on the market with that type of coverage. There are fiduciary insurance policies available for... Read more »

4 Answers | Asked in Bankruptcy and Estate Planning for California on
Q: What happens to assets & property in a revocable trust upon the trustor's death if in the process of bankruptcy?

My mother just passed away. She has a revocable trust, of which I am trustee/executor, state of AZ. She was in the process of filing bankruptcy but did not officially file with the court yet. What are my responsibilities as trustee? Do the beneficiaries have a right to the proceeds from the sale of... Read more »

Peter Maurice Lively
Peter Maurice Lively answered on May 14, 2020

Yes, you should immediately contact your mother's bankruptcy attorney and advise this person of her death. You are best advised to seek a consultation with an Arizona wills and trusts that attorney regarding your responsibilities and duties as trustee of her trust which is no longer revocable... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Elder Law for California on
Q: My mother and father are both alive but ailing. If my father passes away before my mother when is his/their will read?

I anticipate issues with my siblings over my parents' estate, specifically one of them influencing my mother to change their will to exclude me if my father predeceases her. But if the will were to be read after he passed away (if he were to pass first) at least we would know his intentions... Read more »

Jonathan Purcell
Jonathan Purcell answered on May 12, 2020

Most modern estate plans use a trust instead of will to transfer assets at death.

Jonathan Purcell is a California Attorney. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended nor should be construed as...
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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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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: Final distribution of trust to benes will delay min. 6+mos. by institutional trustee without full release. Reasonable?

marital trust terminated 2 mos. ago on death of surviving spouse. 3 adult children only benes. Trustee will delay final distribution of only asset (brokerage acct w/various mutual funds, ETFs, etc) w/o full release & indemnification. Excessive fees & trading, refusal to distribute are only... Read more »

James Edward Berge
James Edward Berge answered on May 11, 2020

If you get regular monthly accountings from the institutional trustee and have no objections to those detailed accountings, then yes, in my professional opinion, their request for a final distribution conditional upon a final release of all claims is reasonable. If this were a non-professional... Read more »

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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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: If he died was deported never married I have a child can I still get money
Mike Darlington
Mike Darlington answered on May 6, 2020

What I am getting from your question, and I may be wrong, is that you and the father of your child were never married, that he was deported and then died. Your question is, I believe, can you still get child support? If the father is deceased, of course, you cannot get child support from him, or... Read more »

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.

James Edward Berge
James Edward Berge answered on May 5, 2020

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your son. I'm assuming you're talking about life insurance paperwork. If you're the named beneficiary on his life insurance policy, the insurance company will simply write you a check if that's your wish. If he had no beneficiary named... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Probate for California on
Q: California: Can she alter the terms of the trust and refuse to sign the deed?

My oldest sister is the trustee of my mother’s trust. The only item in the trust is my mother’s home. The trust terms are that the home is divided equally among my two sisters and myself. There is an existing mortgage on the home. We have agreed I may purchase the home and buy out their... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on May 5, 2020

The most straightforward way is for you to open an escrow and deposit the entire purchase price. Then those funds are used to pay the mortgage and closing costs. What is left is split three ways. If you don't have all cash, then you will have to get a loan, so you will deposit part cash and... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Collections and Probate for California on
Q: Is the surviving spouse liable for the deceased spouse's credit card debt if only in the deceased's name?

If credit card debt was taken out by the deceased spouse in their name only and without the surviving spouse's knowledge, what rights does the surviving spouse have? Are they still liable for the debt? There is no will or estate.

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Apr 29, 2020

That's tough to answer as there are many variables and ways it could go. A general rule in probate is that a person (spouse or otherwise) is liable for debts (even if they didn't know about it) to the extent they received assets from the decedent. So if the spouse received money/assets... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: The trust terms: divide the home equally one third each. Can my trustee sister demand I pay the entire existing mortgage

My two sisters and I have agreed I will buy their interest in the home. My sister who is the trustee demands I pay the entire existing mortgage or she will not sign the deed. The trust terms are the home is divided equally one third each. Can my sister alter the terms, threaten to not sign the deed... Read more »

Jonathan Purcell
Jonathan Purcell answered on Apr 28, 2020

There are private investors who provide liquidity to estates for exactly this situation. They provide funding to allay your Sister's apprehension, and should also provide guidance in preserving the historical property tax.

Jonathan Purcell is a California Attorney. This posting does...
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2 Answers | Asked in Appeals / Appellate Law, Contracts, Estate Planning and Insurance Bad Faith for California on
Q: Can I appeal the decision to transfer my structured settlement ?

I was scheduled to receive $75,000 at age 35 and $375,000 at age 45 through a structured settlement that was created after my father passed away. At age 22, about 10 years ago, I sold a portion of my structured settlement for a lump sum of money. I was about 22 at the time. The judge in San Diego... Read more »

John Francis Nicholson
John Francis Nicholson answered on Apr 24, 2020

Your description of your legal issues raises more questions than answers. In order to get an informed legal opinion from an attorney you need to retain an attorney for a consultation. Be thorough with your facts, and bring all relevant documents to the consultation, which will consume at least 1... Read more »

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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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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: Can someone leave a house that they inherited to a family member if they never transferred the title in their name?

My aunt inherited my grandparents house in 2005. She never transferred the house into her name. As a matter of fact ALL the utilities are still in their name too! My aunt has a will to leave everything to my second cousin (which is a GREAT grandchild). Can she legally do this? Or does the house go... Read more »

James Edward Berge
James Edward Berge answered on Apr 20, 2020

Yes, if she owns the property, she has the right to give it away by Will to anyone she wants. Unfortunately, for the lucky recipient of the property, he/she will need to perfect your aunt's title to the property before he/she can receive it, and that may mean a probate of your... Read more »

3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for California on
Q: California my father passed had a living trust we want to buy the house all parties are in agreement whats next
Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Apr 14, 2020

How you should proceed depends a lot on the terms of the trust. Without a review of the trust and an understanding of facts such as how many beneficiaries and their relationship, no lawyer can answer your question. A major consideration would be preserving the parent to child reassessment for... Read more »

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