Probate Court Websites by County

Contra Costa County

https://www.cc-courts.org/probate/general.aspx.

Alameda County

http://www.alameda.courts.ca.gov/Pages.aspx/Probate

Solano County

https://www.solano.courts.ca.gov/Courts/ProbateConservatorshipGuardianship.html

San Francisco County

https://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/divisions/probate

San Mateo County

http://www.sanmateocourt.org/court_divisions/probate/

Sacramento County

https://www.saccourt.ca.gov/probate/probate.aspx

State of California

https://www.courts.ca.gov/8865.htm?rdeLocaleAttr=en#:~:text=In%20a%20probate%20case%2C%20an,legal%20right%20to%20inherit)%2C%20all

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Walnut Creek Main Office

1990 N. California BLVd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 390-3222

San Francisco Office

95 Third Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

(628) 216-5558

Oakland Office

66 Franklin Street
Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 822-2770

San Jose Office

3031 Tisch Way
110 Plaza West
San Jose, CA 94607

(408) 707-1667

Estate Plan Signing – Could Virtual Notarization Be Used?

Estate Plan Signing – Could Virtual Notarization Be Used?

Currently, you cannot virtually notarize a document, but what do you do if you need to get your estate plan signed during the current coronavirus pandemic?

You probably do not want someone coming inside your home to notarize your documents right now. During this time, you may feel especially compelled to finalize your estate plan with so much uncertainty. Mendes Weed, LLP is open and willing to help you with your estate plan. However, this still does not solve the issue of how to get these documents formally signed.

In CA, your will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses who also sign and attest to the document. Many of your documents, including your trust must be notarized. According to this article, many estate planning attorneys across the country are running into issues with getting their clients’ estate plans fully executed during this time. One attorney even described all parties involved in the estate planning signing having to stand in the driveway far away from each other while the client signed documents, and everyone wore masks.

Could it be that notaries will finally be able to notarize documents virtually? We will be keeping an eye on this issue over the next few weeks.

If you have any questions about your estate plan, including your will, trust, durable power of attorney, or advance healthcare directive, please feel free to reach out to us at (925) 390-3222. We are here to help you during this difficult time.

SuperLawyers-RisingStars
Best of the East Bay Attorneys
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Walnut Creek Main Office

1990 N. California BLVd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 390-3222

San Francisco Office

95 Third Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

(628) 216-5558

Oakland Office

66 Franklin Street
Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 822-2770

San Jose Office

3031 Tisch Way
110 Plaza West
San Jose, CA 94607

(408) 707-1667

Justice for the Abused: Busting the Epstein Trust

Justice for the Abused: Busting the Epstein Trust

Did Jeffery Epstein try to thwart justice from beyond the grave? Last week all criminal charges were dropped against accused child trafficker and rapist Jeffery Epstein. His deliberate death moots the criminal prosecution against him. You cannot convict a dead man. In a last-ditch effort, Epstein’s final legal move was to put his wealth into a trust, perhaps to thumb his nose at the system and his victims from his money.

There are many types of trusts, with different goals and purposes, but they are similar at their core. A trust is a three-party legal and financial arrangement where one party (the trustor) gives a second party (the trustee) the ability to hold assets or property for a third party (the beneficiary). In Epstein’s case as the trustor, he put his wealth in the trust managed by a trustee. As trusts are traditionally confidential, we do not know who Epstein’s beneficiaries are. 

Despite Epstein’s death and his trust, his victims deserve closure, compensation, and Justice.  Epstein’s accusers can still pursue civil cases against the estate. One way to get to the truth and help Epstein’s victims is for a civil case to bust the trust.

We don’t do criminal law at Mendes Weed, LLP, but we know a lot about estates and trusts. Especially about how to protect them. This gives us insight into how to go about breaking them.

HIDING WEALTH IN PLAIN SIGHT

According to the New York Times, Epstein’s estate was worth approximately $500 million when he committed suicide, so there are substantial assets to pay to victims. The first look at his assets came from his previous bail hearing in 2007. This gives us an idea of what is in the trust.

Epstein’s estate was estimated to be worth $577.6 million, including about $56.5 million in cash. He also had aviation assets, automobiles, and boats worth $18.5 million, a mansion in New York City worth nearly $56 million, an $8.6 million Paris apartment, a $17.2 million New Mexico Ranch, a $12.3 million home in Palm Beach, Florida, and a private island and other holdings in the U.S. Virgin Islands with an estimated worth of $86.3 million, according to the court document. Epstein’s estate also includes $195 million in hedge funds and private equity investments, $14.3 million in fixed-income investments, and $112.6 million in equities, according to the document.

THE TRUSTEES HOLD THE KEYS

An upside to a trust is that it is a legal structure, with definitions, itemized contents, and Trustees. These Trustees are responsible for the administration of the trust. This put all of Epstein’s wealth in one place, well documented, and let the world know where it is and who is watching it. The Trustees are empowered to negotiate, defend, or settle any claims against the Trust to pay his past, prior, and current civil liabilities. While the executors of his will have been named as Darren Indyke and David Kahn, the details of Epstein’s trust, including trustees, are unknown.

Many accusers are coming forward with civil lawsuits against the estate (For more information on estate/trust litigation, click here).  If Epstein is found liable for his crimes in court, the trust can be contested. If a trust contest is successful, the court can overturn some or all of the trust’s provisions.

We don’t know what assets, if any, were hidden overseas. Although some assets may have been hidden by Epstein, the real properties located in the U.S. can be easily found and accounted for as part of his estate. (For more information on the disclosure of foreign assets, click here). 

If lawyers for Epstein’s victims can show the wealth was put in the trust to hinder, defraud or delay creditors, they can have the terms of the trust changed or voided. Though his death has stolen any chance of conviction, distributing his wealth to his victims is as close as they will come to justice and closure for what they suffered.

Christina Weed is a Partner at Mendes Weed, LLC who practices Estate, Probate, and Tax Law. She is based in Walnut Creek and tries cases all over the Bay Area. Christina has been designated a Certified Specialist in Taxation by the State Bar of California.

 

SuperLawyers-RisingStars
Best of the East Bay Attorneys
Lisa Janine MendesReviewsout of 5 reviews
Walnut Creek Chanber of Commerce logo
Christina Weed - Taxation Law Specialist
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Walnut Creek Main Office

1990 N. California BLVd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 390-3222

San Francisco Office

95 Third Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

(628) 216-5558

Oakland Office

66 Franklin Street
Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 822-2770

San Jose Office

3031 Tisch Way
110 Plaza West
San Jose, CA 94607

(408) 707-1667

When Is Your Trust Taxable in California?

When Is Your Trust Taxable in California?

Generally, a trust is taxable in California if a fiduciary or beneficiary (other than a contingent beneficiary) is a resident of California under California Revenue and Taxation Code 17742.  This is true even if the original settlor was not a resident of California.

This means even if a non-California resident settlor creates a trust outside of California, with all non-California resident beneficiaries, the trust could still eventually be subject to taxation in California.

How does this happen?  If a trust is ongoing for a number of years, a corporate fiduciary may need to step in once there all of the successor trustees in the trust document have been exhausted.  If the corporate fiduciary who steps in is in California, the trust will be subject to tax in California.

This seems an unfortunate result.  At Mendes Weed, LLP, we participate in the Conference of California Bar Associations each year to try to enact and change legislation.  This year, we have drafted Resolution 05-07-2018 which addresses this issue of unintended California taxation of an out-of-state trust.

We advocate for our clients in every way that we can.  When our clients have legal issues that come up, and we do not believe the law properly addresses their issue, we work to change that.

At Mendes Weed, LLP, we are Federal and California Tax Lawyers.  If you have any questions about tax law, tax controversy, compliance, or appeals, we are happy to assist you.

Mendes Weed, LLP is here to help you if you have any questions.  (925) 390-3222.

SuperLawyers-RisingStars
Best of the East Bay Attorneys
Lisa Janine MendesReviewsout of 5 reviews
Walnut Creek Chanber of Commerce logo
Christina Weed - Taxation Law Specialist
lawyers of distinction badge 2020

Walnut Creek Main Office

1990 N. California BLVd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 390-3222

San Francisco Office

95 Third Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

(628) 216-5558

Oakland Office

66 Franklin Street
Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 822-2770

San Jose Office

3031 Tisch Way
110 Plaza West
San Jose, CA 94607

(408) 707-1667

What is Probate and What Does It Entail?

What is Probate and What Does It Entail?

Probate is the process of transferring assets from a decedent to an heir. 

For those who die in California with assets over $150,000 and without a trust, or perhaps with an improperly funded trust, the only way to transfer title from a decedent to a beneficiary is through the probate process.

The first step is to file a petition for probate in California Superior Court and have a personal representative appointed.  If the decedent had a will that named an executor, the executor will likely serve as a personal representative.  If the decedent did not have a will, the court will need to appoint an administrator.  The personal representative may be required to post a bond.

Once the personal representative is appointed, the Court will issue Letters Testamentary.  The Letters Testamentary will serve as proof that the personal representative can act on behalf of the estate of the decedent.

Thereafter, the personal representative needs to give notice to creditors and file an inventory and a final account and petition for final distribution.

After a loved one dies, it can be stressful to handle all of these matters on your own.  An attorney can assist you with this process and prepare all pleadings for you and file all necessary pleadings.

At Mendes Weed, LLP, we pride ourselves on taking care of our clients when they are in difficult situations so that we can help put their minds at ease.

Mendes Weed, LLP is here to help you if you have any questions.  (925) 390-3222.

The tips and materials provided on this page are for informational purposes only, offered as public service. No information on this website should be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney directly.

SuperLawyers-RisingStars
Best of the East Bay Attorneys
Lisa Janine MendesReviewsout of 5 reviews
Walnut Creek Chanber of Commerce logo
Christina Weed - Taxation Law Specialist
lawyers of distinction badge 2020

Walnut Creek Main Office

1990 N. California BLVd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 390-3222

San Francisco Office

95 Third Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

(628) 216-5558

Oakland Office

66 Franklin Street
Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 822-2770

San Jose Office

3031 Tisch Way
110 Plaza West
San Jose, CA 94607

(408) 707-1667

Why Won’t the Trustee Make a Distribution and Pay Me What I Am Entitled to?

Why Won’t the Trustee Make a Distribution and Pay Me What I Am Entitled to?

Pursuant to Probate Code Section 16061.7, the trustee of a trust must distribute copies of the trust to all trust beneficiaries within 60 days.  The Notice must identify: the settlor or settlors and the date of the trust instrument; the name, mailing address, and phone number of each trustee; the address and physical location of the place of trust administration; and any other information that is specified in the trust.

Why won’t the trustee distribute your money?  It could be for a variety of reasons.  For example, perhaps the trustee is not a professional and is feeling overwhelmed or does not understand the trust.  In some situations, however, the trustee may not be making a distribution because he or she did something wrong.

No matter the case, the trustee has fiduciary duties to the trust.  As a beneficiary, you are entitled to be informed by the trustee.  If you are not, you may need to take action.

It may be helpful to have a lawyer assist you in drafting a letter to the trustee.  If this does not work, you may need to file a petition in Superior Court.  The petition could simply ask for a distribution, or perhaps an accounting.  It may even be possible to surcharge the trustee for any losses of the beneficiaries.  And in some cases, there can be an award of double damages.

If you have serious concerns about the way the trustee is administering the trust, you cannot afford to allow things to get worse.

You should speak with an attorney who assists clients with trust matters.  At Mendes Weed, LLP, we assist clients with trust and estate litigation, probate, trust administration, and estate planning.

Mendes Weed, LLP is here to help you if you have any questions.  (925) 390-3222.

The tips and materials provided on this page are for informational purposes only, offered as public service. No information on this website should be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney directly.

SuperLawyers-RisingStars
Best of the East Bay Attorneys
Lisa Janine MendesReviewsout of 5 reviews
Walnut Creek Chanber of Commerce logo
Christina Weed - Taxation Law Specialist
lawyers of distinction badge 2020

Walnut Creek Main Office

1990 N. California BLVd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 390-3222

San Francisco Office

95 Third Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

(628) 216-5558

Oakland Office

66 Franklin Street
Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 822-2770

San Jose Office

3031 Tisch Way
110 Plaza West
San Jose, CA 94607

(408) 707-1667