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Hi, this is Keith Davidson from Albertson & Davidson.  In this video, we’re discussing real property taxes. When a person passes away and they transfer assets, real property, from themselves to their children, under California law, the children are allowed to file a parent to child exclusion.  And what that does, it prevents the house or the real property from being reappraised for real property tax purposes.  And that can be a real benefit to the child.  If the parent bought the house many years ago, the tax valuation for real property tax purposes might be very low.  Whereas, if you were to reappraise the property at current values, the value would be much higher and resulting in more property tax rather than less property tax the way the parent had it.

So that property tax basis, that appraised value that they used to determine the amount of tax, it can remain intact if property passes from parents to children.  But you have to file the proper exclusion form.  And the question is does the trustee have the responsibility for filing that form and that all depends.  It depends on the type of trust that you’re dealing with and how long these assets are going to remain in trust.

So the property is supposed to pass out quickly to the beneficiary and it happens in a manner of a few months, but it might be the responsibility of the beneficiary to file the parent to child exclusion.  If, however, the property is going to be held in trust for a significant amount of time, then the trustee would have the obligation to file that parent to child exclusion.  So it really depends on the facts and circumstances of your case as to who has the responsibility for filing the exclusion.

But the thing you should and always remember is that if you’re receiving real property from your parent, be sure that some way, somehow, somebody files the parent to child exclusion.

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Hi, this is Keith Davidson from Albertson & Davidson.  In this video, I’m talking about can you release your trustee from liability and, in particular, can a trustee force you to sign a release in order to get your trust distribution?  And you see this happen fairly often or more often than it really should.  Which is a trustee will say, “I have your money.  I’m ready to distribute it out to you, but I won’t give you a dime until you first sign this release relieving me, the trustee, of all liability under California Probate law and Trust law.”  And the answer is no.  A trustee cannot force you to sign a release as a condition to getting a distribution of your trust share.

Now, that doesn’t mean that a trustee can’t still ask you to sign a release.  You voluntarily can choose to sign a release if you’d like to.  And there are some reasons why you might want to do that.  Because if you don’t sign a release, the trustee might choose, instead, to seek court approval of a trust accounting.  And the reason why a trustee would want to do that, is if they disclose all of their activities in a trust accounting and they file it with the court, and the court approves that accounting, then all of those acts cannot be sued on later.  So, once the trust accounting is approved, the beneficiaries can’t come back later and sue the trustee for those acts.  And for that reason, the trustee may say, “Well, I either need you to sign this release voluntarily, or I’m going to have to file an accounting with the court.  And I’m allowed to use trust funds to pay for that preparation of that accounting.”

So you’re in the unusual position where the trustee cannot withhold your money, pending you signing a release.  But the trustee can spend some of your money to get a trust accounting prepared and filed with the court and seek court approval of that accounting.

That doesn’t mean that the trustee can withhold all of your money, however, because even preparation of a trust accounting, it only costs so much.  So it might cost five, ten, fifteen thousand dollars to hire an accountant to do a trust accounting.  You might have to pay a lawyer similar amounts, but it’s not going to be your entire trust share, in most cases.  So if you’re entitled to a million dollars, the trustee can’t withhold a million dollars because they want to get court approval of an accounting.  They have to give you a distribution.  They can hold a reserve, let’s say a hundred thousand dollars out of your million, but they can’t keep the whole million dollars hostage until the court approves their accounting or until you sign a release. And, unfortunately, this happens quite often.  Trustees will threaten that they will withhold your money unless you sign a release, and unfortunately, a lot of times people feel compelled to sign those documents.

And our advice would be don’t sign the documents.  Get some advice before you take any action.  And hopefully, the trustee will do the right thing, will follow California Trust law, and will give you your trust distribution.

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Hi, this is Stewart Albertson with Albertson & Davidson and I want to talk to you about how we find assets in a trust or will contest case.  And this is a problem.  This is something that we have a hard time explaining to clients, at times, because the clients come to us and they say I know Mom and Dad had gold bars, silver bars, cash in a safe.  I know that there’s some personal property items that are out there that Mom had and my brother’s taken them and sold them to a pawn shop.  How do we prove that?  How do we get the assets back?

And there’s some good news and bad news here.  But, the good news is, if an asset has a title to it, such as a bank account, that has a title.  A car has a title.  A house generally has a title.  Retirement accounts have titles.  These are generally larger assets in a person’s estate.  We can generally find those assets out there by serving subpoenas on parties that have those documents so that we can look at them and determine what the value of those assets were on the date of death, maybe even prior to the date of death, and then, of course, what they’re worth today.  And we can ask whoever was in control of those assets after someone passed away, what have they done with those assets?  Have they spent them on themselves?  Or have they saved them for the rightful beneficiaries of the trust or the will?

So that is one way that we find assets in these cases.  Sometimes I feel like clients look at us and say, you’re the lawyer, you’re the expert.  Can’t you just go out there and find these assets?  Aren’t these assets just available for you as a specialist in this arena, to go and find.  And what I tell clients is, I wish that were the case.  I wish I had a magic wand that I could waive and I could find all of the assets that had disappeared or gone missing that once belonged to your Mom or your Dad prior to their passing.

There’s going to be some assets that you’re just not going to be able to find in these cases.  Rarely will you find someone whose stolen assets.  Rarely will you have them come to a deposition and they admit that they’ve stole assets.  Even if they get to the point where they say yes, there were some cash in a safe of $200,000.  They’re going to tell you that Mom or Dad gifted that cash to them.  And then that will be the new argument, whether it was a gift, whether it was a loan, whether they took it without permission.  That will be an issue to decide at the time of trial.  But, in most cases, if $200,000 cash is missing, changes are finding it are not going to be great in these cases.  I wish that was not the state of affairs for trust and will cases in California, but, ultimately, if we have titled assets, we can find them.  If we have untitled assets, it can be a problem and the sooner people understand that, come to grips with that, it’s much easier for us to move forward in the case.

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Hi, this is Stewart Albertson with Albertson and Davidson and we get this question every now and then, and the question is: Do I really need to hire a lawyer for my trust contest or will contest or can I do it on my own? Can I go order a book from Nolo press or from Amazon and just figure out how to do this myself? And here’s the answer: No. That could be the end of this article right now, but no, you cannot handle your own trust contest or will contest.

I know that sounds like a self-serving statement because I’m a lawyer and I get paid to bring these cases, but this would be like asking you, can you handle your own gallbladder surgery? Can you handle your own appendectomy? Can you handle your own heart surgery? No, you’re going to have to hire professionals to do that if you want it done right. So get the books from Amazon, get the books from Nolo press so that you can educate yourself on what a trust contest is, a will contest, and how they work so that you can go in and sit down and have a good conversation with a professional lawyer to determine the best course of action moving forward. But if you really want a trust contests or a will contest done properly, you’re going to have to use a professional lawyer who has the experience in the field to handle it properly.

 

Every month we are contacted by several hundreds of people asking questions about Trust and Will issues. Abused Trust beneficiaries, bad Trustees, people being disinherited by wrongdoers at the last minute…the problems seem to emanate from every segment of society.

It doesn’t help that Trust and Will law is particularly confusing. We spend a lot of time trying to answer as many questions as we can. So why not do a Live Q&A on our YouTube Channel? Here we go, Friday, October 5, 2018 we will host the first of our weekly live broadcasts on YouTube. Bring your questions, and see if we can give you a few answers.

Live YouTube Broadcast begins at 1:30 pm on Friday, October 5, 2018.

 

If you find your inheritance being reduced or eliminated and you want to take action to protect yourself in court, you may want to first consider California No Contest clauses.  California Trusts and Wills often contain a no contest clause that states you will be disinherited if you challenge the terms of the Trust or Will.  And while California no contest clauses have been severely limited in recent years under California law, they still can apply to certain actions you take to challenge a Trust or Will.

In this course, we discuss the application of California no contest clauses in more detail and offer our views on how best to deal with this difficult issue.  If you would prefer to read about this topic, you can find our written blog post here.

The Facts

In this video we cover the basic ground rules for California no contest clauses and provide the factual scenario we will use for the next two video lessons.

The Law

Partner Stewart Albertson provides his professional opinion on how to deal with California no contest clauses found in California Trusts and Wills.

The Talk

Partners Stewart Albertson and Keith A. Davidson discuss their views of how to deal with California no contest clauses.

If you are the victim of a poorly drafted Trust or Will that prevents you from inheriting the property your parents wanted you to have, you may have an attorney malpractice claim on your hands.  In this course, we discuss the rights and options you have to recoup the harms and losses you suffer from attorney malpractice.

The Facts

In this video we cover the basic rules for attorney malpractice claims and present the factual scenario we will use in the next two videos.

The Law

Partner Stewart Albertson discusses his professional opinion of how the law of attorney malpractice applies to the facts presented in Lesson 1.

The Talk

Partners Keith A. Davidson and Stewart Albertson discuss their views of how attorney malpractice is used to recoup harms and losses suffered by attorney malpractice.

 

If you are contesting a Trust or Will, or filing a California financial elder abuse action, you have to know about undue influence.  In a majority of cases, undue influence is alleged as the basis to overturn a California Trust or Will.  And the same concept can be the basis to file and win a California financial elder abuse claim.

In course 3, we cover the facts, the law, and the talk for California undue influence claims.

The Facts

In this video we cover the basic rules for undue influence claims; and then present the factual scenario we will use in the next two videos.

The Law

Partner Keith A. Davidson discusses his professional opinion of how the law of undue influence applies to the facts presented in Lesson 1.

The Talk

Partners Stewart Albertson and Keith A. Davidson discuss their views of how undue influence is used and applied in Trust and Will lawsuits.

California Trustees have a lot of duties and responsibilities, but none are more important than the top three Trustee duties discussed in course 2 of our video series.  You can find an in-depth written discussion of this topic here.

The Facts.

In this video we discuss a basic factual scenario that we will use in the next two videos.

The Law.

In this video, partner Stewart Albertson gives his professional opinion on Trustee duties.

The Talk.

In this video, partners Stewart Albertson and Keith A. Davidson give their views on Trustee duties.

It’s time for something new.  We developed a new course called The Beneficiary’s Corner.  This course will allow us to delve more deeply into a California Trust or Will topic.  The first lesson of each course is The Facts, where we set out a hypothetical scenario drawn from our experience in actual cases.  We then provide you with our professional opinion in The Law section.  And finally, we have our partners conduct a roundhouse discussion of the topic in The Talk.

Below are the videos from our first course focusing on Trustee investing.  Each month we plan to release a new course in the same format.  You can find all of our courses here.   You can also find an in-depth written text for this course here.