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California Estate Planning Questions & Answers

3 Answers | Asked in Probate and Estate Planning for California on

Q: My friend’s father passed away & her half brothers want to use the living trust made in 2017 & not the revised from 6/19

The older trust benefits the brothers and pretty much leaves the daughter out of an inheritance. Can they choose which will to use?

James Edward Berge answered on Sep 8, 2019

It depends on which trust owns the asset. The older trust may own the house and bank accounts. The newer trust may own nothing. If neither trust owns the asset, the most recent Will controls who owns the asset. If the only Will points to the older trust, the older trust gets the asset. If... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on

Q: Can a member of a family trust demand payback for work her companion did on the house before our mother died?

The work done on my mother's house was: the roof, French drainage all around the house and all are part of the foundation. The sister that wants 60% (is the executor of the trust), while the other 4 other sisters split 40% of the money after the house is sold. The executor is claiming that if she... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst answered on Sep 8, 2019

What would you do if the roles were reversed?

3 Answers | Asked in Probate and Estate Planning for California on

Q: My mother inlaw passed away 16 years ago in California and one of her daughter's took possession of the property, is it

To late for my husband to file probate?

John B. Palley answered on Sep 7, 2019

It depends. You say she took possession of it. Did she actually legally transfer it to herself in some fashion (trust, deed, probate) or has she just been living there? If not legally transferred to her I would definitely get probate started now. I'd need to look at the deed history to know more.

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on

Q: My mom wrote a notarized letter leaving me her belongings, can her boyfriend fight that in court?

They aren’t married, but have lived together for around 6 years.

We also lived in a different state. I moved to Nevada 3 years ago, she lives in California.

James Edward Berge answered on Sep 6, 2019

If there’s no dispute that your mom owned the property she sought to leave to you, it’s hers to give away. A letter however is not a Will unless it’s intended to have testamentary effect and is either written entirely by your mom in her own handwriting or signed by two witnesses. If the... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on

Q: Reversing or modifying a Trust Transfer Deed and Change of Ownership report by seller/transferor.

The deed to my father's primary residence has been transferred by means of a Trust Transfer Deed, into the name of my half-sister, as trustee. He has reason to believe she has been mismanaging his funds, refusing to disclose any information pertaining to his affairs and assets, so he wishes to have... Read more »

James Edward Berge answered on Sep 5, 2019

Your dad doesn't need to revoke the trust to remove a trustee. All he needs is a simple letter to the trustee exercising his right to remove a trustee and demanding that she deed the property back to him as sole trustee. If she fails to do so, she can be held liable for damages. A simple... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for California on

Q: If cars my dad owned before marriage and have always solely been in his name considered personal prop? No will

I am only child and parents were married 30+ yrs, however, 3 classic cars & 1 classic motorcycle were all purchased and owned by my father before my mom and dad were married....he didn’t have a will. I realize my mom receives all community property and separate property should be dispersed... Read more »

James Edward Berge answered on Sep 5, 2019

It sounds like the cars your father purchased before marriage were his separate property. If a person dies without a Will and is married and has one child, the laws of intestacy say that your mother inherits 1/2 of that property and you inherit 1/2 of that property. If your mother claimed 100%... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Probate and Estate Planning for California on

Q: My MOM pASSED YEsterdaY We founD a paper saying to leave every thing to her grandson paper wasnt signed or notorized

Is it legally his now

Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Sep 4, 2019

Sorry for your loss. What you have described is not a valid will. A will must be signed and witnessed, or else written entirely in the person's hand writing and signed.

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate and Estate Planning for California on

Q: There’s 3 of us sisters, there leaving me out, no will from my parents,& I haven’t been there since my mom passed,

They had a distribution last wkend and I cudnt go, they’ve been there doing all the things they want and I haven’t been aloud to as my sister says, she got appointed administator, which my parents wud never allow! A couple months ago they had a garage sale I didn’t know, but I showed up and... Read more »

Richard Samuel Price answered on Sep 4, 2019

I'm sorry to hear that you're in this situation. If there is no will and your mother was not married at the time that she passed away, then her heirs are her children equally. You will have to contact a local attorney to help you with this.

1 Answer | Asked in Probate and Estate Planning for California on

Q: If a person is a victim of fraudulent intent and the wrongful order by the court by deeming an individual incapacitated

The court through the fraudulent intent of a family member has wrongfully deemed an individual unable to handle there own financial affairs appointing a trustee over there estate which has been squandered by the self dealing of the trustee who now has put the only property up for sale with plans of... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst answered on Sep 3, 2019

A trust and estates litigation attorney can help you petition the court to have the bad actor removed or replaced and to force them to fully account for funds they have handled and to pay back any stolen funds.

1 Answer | Asked in Criminal Law and Estate Planning for California on

Q: How would we get started in contesting a recent will of my sister?

Recently my sister passed away. I was her caregiver along with hospice that came in a few days a week for 7 months while she was dying of cancer. I am her only living sibling. A copy of the will was sent to me. It had been changed to a trust leaving everything to her and my nice. My sister... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst answered on Aug 30, 2019

You get started by hiring a probate litigation attorney who specializes in will contests. The facts as you have recited them to indeed raise questions about the validity of your sister's most recently signed will. I would encourage you to follow your instincts and make things right by hiring an... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Elder Law and Probate for California on

Q: My sister is my mothers conservator and the successor trustee she refuses to provide any type of accounting.

She is selling a house that is willed to me. i know she is steeling assets i have not had an accounting of the trust since she took it over can i do anything i can only afford a few thousand dollars.

I would also like more info so i can do my own will at one time the estate was worth more... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst answered on Aug 27, 2019

Your sister cannot change your mother’s will.

If you suspect that your sister is mishandling your mother’s affairs find a trust litigation attorney in your area to talk about filing a petition to have her removed as trustee if you have sufficient proof that she is stealing assets.

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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 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 Estate Planning for California on

Q: Can a revocable trust be changed three times?

My husband and I are trustees of a revocable trust. The owner of the trust has changed it three times, has had one trustee in 2003, had a falling out with that one, got another one in 2010 had a falling out with that one and now has my husband and I since 2017. Each time she gets a new trust at a... Read more »

James Edward Berge answered on Aug 22, 2019

If she makes a change to a trust and expects it to have a binding effect on the trustee, she must inform the trustee of the change and the trustee needs to sign off on the change.

If she makes a change to a trust which changes the trustee, no notice is required to make the change, but once...
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1 Answer | Asked in Probate, Business Law and Estate Planning for California on

Q: my 50 50 partner in a c corp passed away in may with no will. her stock shares are going to probate.

in probate, will they simply give away her shares of stock? or will they also valuate the company and demand a payment be made to the new shareholder? he is not a director, manager or majority shareholder in the company.

Bill Sweeney answered on Aug 20, 2019

If valued over $150,000, the share ownership will likely be probated and the shares will likely be distributed to the intestate heirs. You should retain competent counsel to review your situation, including any agreements between the shareholders regarding death of a shareholder.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Probate for California on

Q: In CA do I need to quitclaim a condo to the estate and then quitclaim from the estate to a person? How doI sign 1st one?

Nina Whitehurst answered on Aug 20, 2019

Your probate attorney should be helping you with this one. If you do not have a probate attorney, then you probably need one. These are not do-it-yourself projects.

To answer your first question, no, the executor does not have to change title of real property from the name of a decedent...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Foreclosure and Real Estate Law for California on

Q: The home ive lived in for 40 yrs. is in short sale. what rights do i have if i still live there?

my dad died and my sister was named executer to his estate . We found he was behind on his mortgage and the house was going into foreclosure. my sister got a probate lawyer and hot the house approved for short sale. An auction date has been pushed back to september . i got served with a 60 eviction... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst answered on Aug 19, 2019

It sounds like you were renting month to month and the new owner of the house, your dad's estate, has served you will a 60-day notice to quit in order to prepare the house for sale. You must move within that 60 day period. If you do not move, they can get a local sheriff to bodily drag you out... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Probate and Real Estate Law for California on

Q: Can you add someone to the deed to your house but Will that your home be sold/profits split Among people not on the deed

My grandmother recently added my aunt and her husband to the deed of her home and the was told she could require they sell the home and split the money between us 5 grandkids. Is this true in California. Doesn’t a deed supersede a will? And if my aunt is a beneficiary on all her other accounts... Read more »

James Edward Berge answered on Aug 18, 2019

There is a presumption affecting the burden of proof that title to property is what it is, and that challengers that seek to prove otherwise must produce clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. It’s certainly possible that grandma conveyed title with an understanding that the property... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on

Q: There’s 3 of us girls, supposedly my mom left no will, not believable! But she trick me into believing her at the begin

Beginning by signing a no bond that clearly isn’t wat she told me it was!& that the attorney was for us 3, I’ve not been able to step foot in my parents home,& she had a garage sale w/ out my knowledge that led to a fight n the police were called I’ve got the report is was NOT my fault! Now... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst answered on Aug 16, 2019

Hire a probate attorney to help you ensure that your mother’s estate is being handled correctly.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on

Q: my Sister got revoked for not being mental able to work as a nurse do to pills, she’s now administrator of moms estate!

I believe the law firm doesn’t know this that’s her attorney nor the courts, wud she be able to do if they knew?

Nina Whitehurst answered on Aug 16, 2019

If you think your sister is not qualified to be the executor of your mom's estate, you should hire your own attorney to oppose her appointment or, if she has already been appointed, to have her removed.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on

Q: My parents passed away and the trust splits 50/50 with me and sister. They have moved in to my parents home.

They will not pay me for my half of the house. What are my options?

Sanjoy Kumar Guha answered on Aug 14, 2019

If you and your sibling can't reach an agreement, you'll probably have to involve the court. You can file a lawsuit for partition, asking a judge to order the sale of the home so you can terminate your co-ownership.

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