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California Estate Planning Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Contracts, Antitrust and Probate for California on
Q: Would you challenge" integrity ""Legality" and "Un-natural"creation of a Living Trust if the following events applied?

1. Father was very successful quadriplegic who planned his estate thru a will.

2. Had a tragic accident that put him in a coma for 8 wks r.Then incapacitated by doctors reports thereafter.

3. Mom knew that his will would not pass his estate to her only 1/3 of his wealth

4... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Oct 20, 2019

This is quite evidently a highly fact-specific situation, which is not suitable for this forum, which is for questions of a general information.

In any event, there are critical facts missing from your narrative that could change the answer 180 degrees. Your best bet is to schedule a...
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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: I need a lawyer to work with my sister who is deaf but reads lips. One who treats her with respect.

She wants to make sure her son and daughter inherit jointly the rights to her home, which is being somewhat blocked by her daughter. She is in Huntington Park, CA.

James Geoffrey Beirne
James Geoffrey Beirne answered on Oct 15, 2019

Every client deserves respect. Your sister can have a Revocable Living Trust that specifically divides the home evenly between her son and daughter. How is the daughter blocking your sister's wishes?

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?

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Oct 11, 2019

There is no one single correct answer to your question. These are issues that an experienced estate planning attorney can help you sort through in the process of preparing customized powers of attorney.

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: I am a legal heir grandchild (a contingent class named beneficiary) to an original AB trust of my grandmother (1997).

The contingency occurred.I recently discovered us grandchildren were disinherited via a 2005 restated AB trust under suspicious circumstances:My grandmother's daughters, my aunts, worked with my grandmother's lawyer in filing a Petition to Terminate the Bypass Part B trust of the 2005 AB trust. Us... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Oct 10, 2019

It sounds like you did not object when you were notified of the petition and the petition was approved by the court. There is nothing you can do now.

2 Answers | Asked in Contracts, Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Tax Law for California on
Q: How do I find out about a property that's been transferred to my mom's name?

I just found out that my grandmother had dementia and can't remember much. I recently learned that my grandma had put her house in my mom's name. Her son Ronnie (my sperm donor), his girlfriend and my uncle Tim are all living under her roof and haven't taken her to a hospital in fear of losing... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Oct 8, 2019

You can go to the local county recorder's office and look up the deed and obtain a copy by paying a copy fee per page. If you are unable to do that, you can hire almost any real estate paralegal or attorney to obtain a copy for you. Some real estate agents have the ability to do this as well.... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: If a trust has a trustee and co trustee, a bank, what happens when the bank is bought by another bank.

Both hu and wife have passed away. No children. Beneficiaries are nieces and nephews.

James Edward Berge
James Edward Berge answered on Oct 7, 2019

The new bank becomes the new cotrustee.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Family Law and Elder Law for California on
Q: Question as to my liability as named as successor trustee and named in springing durable power of attorney in 2008

In 2008, I was named in my parent’s estate planning docs mentioned above. In 2018, my parents had already had my sister caring for them. After a couple of years, she brought in other parties, all meth addicts, like her, to help her.My parent’s savings was depleted. APS was brought in and... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Oct 5, 2019

No. You have no liability for events prior to you taking over.

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Child Support for California on
Q: Brother and I are coexecutors of trust. He owes $250,000 to creditors, how do I protect my half of inheritance ?

Trust consist of two homes. Total mortgage owed on both homes is $180,000. We live in San Francisco Bay Area, San Carlos. I know California tax laws are INSANE! I don’t want to make a wrong decision that could have lasting effects on me financially.

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Oct 5, 2019

Depending on how the will is worded and if the math works out it might be possible to distribute one house to you and the other to your brother. That way your brother’s creditors won’t be able to reach your inheritance.

Schedule a consultation with a probate attorney to review your options.

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1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law, Nursing Home Abuse, Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: How do I present an effective ex-parte order so the judge will realize the abused and let me stay with her at nigh shif

My grandmas conservator is abusing her I have been watching her recklessly spend 200,000 plus dollars but mostly they have almost killed her. She over the past year has fallen many times . She has broken many bones. The latest fall fractured her hip in many places and broke her arm in half. I... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Oct 5, 2019

Contact your local Adult Protective Services office and also hire a different attorney.

3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Contracts and Probate for California on
Q: Do beneficiaries of a trust have a right to access of the same info as the Trustee/Executor?

My estranged father passed away and left a will & trust stating to divide his estate up equally between his 5 children. None of his children had contact with him for over 15 years. He had a large sum of money piled up in various investments that no one knew about. The Trustee, who is also a... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Oct 3, 2019

As a beneficiary of the trust, you are definitely entitled to a copy of the trust and to regular accountings from the trustee. If that is not happening, hire an attorney to send a stern demand letter to the trustee. If the trustee does not straighten up within a reasonable time after demand is... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: What are the requirements to make the power of attorney legitimate in California?
Bill Sweeney
Bill Sweeney answered on Oct 1, 2019

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone the power to act on behalf of someone else. In California, the person executing the document is referred to as the “principal” and the person chosen to act on the principal’s behalf is referred to as the “agent” or... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: Question is about disclaimed property, specifically a life insurance payout.

My brother refuses life insurance payout, it is now being sent from insurance company to state of California per the law. If it is disclaimed money, can I, his sister, claim it for the trust our mother left us.

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Sep 29, 2019

If it is disclaimed by the primary beneficiary and there is no contingent beneficiary then it should go to your mother's estate. If your mother did not have a will then you probably stand to inherit all or a portion as an intestate heir. If she had a will then it would be distributed in accordance... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Landlord - Tenant and Probate for California on
Q: I need a lawyer but not sure what kind that I need! My step dad just passed away and Put me in his will

I contacted the lawyer and was told my brother is the successor of the trust and they would send my brother a copy of the trust and he hasn’t gave me a copy. He has asked me about the house and renting it out. Now he’s going to let people stay in it. I don’t want to Rent it or and let him... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Sep 29, 2019

Look for a probate and trust administration attorney in the Monterey area, especially one with trust litigation experience. You have the right to demand and receive a copy of the trust. You have the right to require the trustee to strictly abide by the terms of the trust and to care for and... Read more »

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.

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