California Estate Planning Questions & Answers

Q: I have been with my partner for 11yrs have 2 kids and a house we recently purchased under his name. What is the best

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Family Law for California on
Answered on Feb 18, 2019
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney's answer
You need to have the house put in both of your names as Joint Tenants. Otherwise, you have no interest in the house at all when he dies or if you split up. If you are helping to pay the mortgage, you should be getting some equity for that.

It would also be nice if he had a Will that included taking care of you and the kids you have in common.

Q: My stepdaughter filed for conservatorship on my husband, her father . He’s been diagnosed with dementia since December

1 Answer | Asked in Family Law and Estate Planning for California on
Answered on Feb 14, 2019
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney's answer
You have the right to ask the judge that you be appointed the petitioner instead. You are probably the more natural choice for the job.

You could try this without an attorney, but as with any event in front of the court you are much better served to have your own experienced counsel. Call your local bar association referral service and tell them what you need.

A conservator can have different powers, depending on what the judge grants. It may include power over his real...

Q: Son bought a home, wife signed off, they were separated 31 years; he died. Can she claim his estate?

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Answered on Feb 12, 2019
John B. Palley's answer
The ex may make a claim but that will be dealt with when it happens. The cost of probate is based on the value of the house. I have a probate fee calculator on my website which can give you an estimate of cost. https://californiaprobate.info/probate-fee-calculator/

Q: This is just a continuation from last question I was asking you regards to my brother's passing. So you're telling me

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Answered on Feb 7, 2019
Bill Sweeney's answer
If you object to her inheriting property she could be required to prove paternity. The attorney assisting you with the probate can advise you further.

Q: My brother just died & I'm his only family his never been married & no kids we thought . He has no will.ill continue Q

3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Foreclosure and Probate for California on
Answered on Feb 7, 2019
Gerald Barry Dorfman's answer
Sorry for your loss. If she really is his only child, she would inherit everything in his estate. If you or someone else are named as beneficiary on the accounts or 401K, those go to the named beneficiary.

Q: Can an executor of a will disclaim an inheritance on behalf of the deceased?

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Answered on Feb 5, 2019
Bill Sweeney's answer
Unless the trust document provides otherwise, if a beneficiary survives the decedent but then dies later, the deceased beneficiary's share of the estate typically becomes part of the deceased beneficiary’s estate. Consequently, the deceased beneficiary's Will would provide for distribution. If there is no Will the father's estate would be distributed intestate.

Q: Does my husband need a will in California naming me to get the house if he dies?

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Answered on Feb 4, 2019
Gerald Barry Dorfman's answer
A lot depends on the source of the money used for the purchase, and what other possible heirs there are besides yourself. Even if everything points to you being the sole heir, it would be beneficial to have the entire estate covered by a living trust or a will. Alternatively, there are ways a deed can be set up to make transfer on death simple. If you are going to remain in the home, you will be able to "assume" (take over) the mortgage.

Q: Can my mother's husband's adult kids take property that's in her name from her through POA?

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Family Law, Elder Law and Probate for California on
Answered on Feb 3, 2019
Richard Samuel Price's answer
A power of attorney only allows the agent to make financial transactions for the principal, and it terminates at the death of the principal. Your mother's husband's will and how the assets are held will determine who gets the assets at his death, not his power of attorney.

Q: California Trustee has stopped all gifting to relatives, despite long history of gifting before dementia. What to do?

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Elder Law for California on
Answered on Jan 29, 2019
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney's answer
The answer is in the Trust itself. The Trustee is obligated to follow the instructions of the Trust.

The Trustee may not have any choice about making the gifts. At the death of the Uncle, the Trust may have become irrevocable with instructions about the Aunt if she becomes a Special Needs person, with severe limits about what the Trustee can do with the money. The Trustee may just be worried there isn't enough money left to care for Auntie.

If the Aunt is still able to...

Q: State is asking for my wife to return inheritance

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Family Law for California on
Answered on Jan 29, 2019
Ali Shahrestani, Esq.'s answer
Did she spend any of the money after she was notified of objections to the inheritance, including any court filed documents informing her that there was pending litigation re: the inheritance? If so, she might have violated court orders by spending the money. It really depends on the facts and related court proceedings. More details are necessary to provide a professional analysis of your issue. The best first step is an Initial Consultation with an Attorney who handles Probate Litigation. You...

Q: How do I amend complaint- I was granted temporary conservo rship/ person over my mother and now want temporary estate

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Answered on Jan 25, 2019
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney's answer
Do you mean how do you amend the Conservatorship? There is no easy way. You basically have to start the entire process over again from scratch. File the Petition and wait for your court date while the court conducts its investigation.

If you have a Power of Attorney from your mother then you don't need to do this at all -- you already would have the authority granted to you.

Q: Does a co-executor to an estate have the legal right to have a key to the house? Even if they don’t live in it.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for California on
Answered on Jan 24, 2019
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney's answer
How can there be executors if there was no Will? Were they appointed by the Probate Court?

If she is executor of the estate then she needs to have access to the house to inventory the goods and to dispose of the assets. So ... yes.

I hope that answers your question.

Q: The executor/trustee of my mother's trust has not provided an accounting with bill payments, receipts, actions, etc.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Legal Malpractice for California on
Answered on Jan 23, 2019
Genene N. Dunn's answer
You usually have to start with a request as you have done so and the law typically gives them 60 days to respond. If you still aren't provided with the proper information by then your only recourse is to file a trust petition with the court. This is not a full lawsuit, but rather a petition asking for certain things from the court. It could result in litigation, but it does not automatically go there.

Q: Transfer on Death Deed- if the creation of this law was meant to easily transfer property to beneficiaries

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for California on
Answered on Jan 14, 2019
Ali Shahrestani, Esq.'s answer
See: http://www.canhr.org/factsheets/medi-cal_fs/PDFs/FS_TOD_NeedToKnow.pdf

Perhaps that may provide some initial guidance to you on how TODs work. Maybe there was an error made somewhere along the line? More details are necessary to provide a professional analysis of your issue. The best first step is an Initial Consultation with an Attorney such as myself. You can read more about me, my credentials, awards, honors, testimonials, and media appearances/ publications on my law practice...

Q: i am a heir to my aunts trust,i inherited $90K. the lawyer is requesting my ss# number. must i give it 2 him?

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Tax Law for California on
Answered on Jan 11, 2019
Ben F Meek III's answer
Ask him the purpose for his needing to know. Most likely it is so the Trust can report the distribution of funds to you on IRS Form 1099. That would be a legit reason for needing to know.

Q: Lost Trust Paperwork

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Answered on Jan 10, 2019
Sally Bergman's answer
I don't believe there's any way you can avoid having to retain a lawyer to assist you with this matter, particularly if there are family members or other beneficiaries who may dispute the existence or terms of the trust. If the home was titled in the name of the trust, that's a good start, but there are many other issues and hurdles that will have to be dealt with before you can sell the home. There's always the possibility that probate might be required, but an attorney would explore all...

Q: Do you have to have a lawyer do a durable power of attorney in California

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Answered on Jan 9, 2019
Sally Bergman's answer
While you do not need an attorney to do a durable power of attorney in California there are circumstances in which consultation with an attorney is advisable. For example, if the person is in the early stages of any type of dementia or if they may need to qualify for long-term Medi-Cal benefits in the future, an elder law attorney would craft a power of attorney very specific to those situations that are rarely seen in any standard document, but which can be very critical.

Q: I'd like to ask a likely complicated, unusual question about a pending probate of my late sister's estate. I'm the adm.

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Family Law and Probate for California on
Answered on Jan 8, 2019
John B. Palley's answer
Yes. I would say nephew gets half. Assuming you and your sister were only siblings.

Q: Making changes to will

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Answered on Jan 7, 2019
Richard Samuel Price's answer
You should hire an attorney to make changes to your will, or to determine if you might also need a trust. Yes, an attorney would charge a fee for those changes.

Q: If a suicide note states that everything is to be given to a specified non-relative, can it be contested?

3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Family Law, Civil Litigation and Civil Rights for California on
Answered on Jan 3, 2019
Genene N. Dunn's answer
A suicide can serve as a holographic will depending on the context of the note itself. I have had 2 suicide notes that have been held up as valid wills. Unfortunately your husband's rights will most likely be limited as long as he is alive as his parents are still considered his heirs. It all depends on what the notes say but your husband might not have a right to see them as long as he is alive. The parents have some rights as heirs, but that might change depending on if the note is a valid...

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