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Thomas Stindt’s Answers

69 total


  • Can the expense of a partition action of a Living Trust vary greatly? Is the bulk of cost related to court fees?

    Members of a Living Trust are considering pursuing a partition action because of Trustee mismanagement of the Trust. What is a realistic cost average of this pursuit, taking everything into consideration (court costs, filing fees, attorney prepara...

    Thomas’s Answer

    I am assuming in my answer the subject real property is in California and the trust is administered in California, since you are in Santa Barbara. If this assumption is erroneous, this response would need further elaboration.

    Your intended cause of action is more complex than a basic partition action, because you will be petitioners in a trust proceeding, in which you seek to have the trustee instructed to sell the property. Keep in mind that typically in a trust-owned real property, you as a beneficiary are not a co-tenant, rather the trustee is the owner of record and you are a trust beneficiary. So you will need to persuade the court that due to some breach of trust or other reason a sale must be made, and the trustee refuses to do so thus must be ordered to do so. The proceeds of sale will go into the trust, not out to you as a beneficiary. You should consult a trust litigation attorney to plan this out and obtain a cost estimate, preferably someone in the local area of the court having jurisdiction, possibly in Santa Barbara.

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  • REVOCABLE TRUSTS

    When forming a Trust, The Grantor, does he/she necessary has to be the person who funds the trust, or can this one be any other person...Meaning , if I want to set up a trust, do I necessary have to be the grantor or any other person I choose ca...

    Thomas’s Answer

    If you create a trust, you are the Settlor or Trustor, which means you have created the trust as its Grantor. Your Trust must have a trustee, which would be you if you are creating as self-trusteed, grantor trust. There are no other grantors (settlors or trustors) other than the people who create the trust, which in your question would be only yourself. You don't change the Grantor once you have created the trust. You can change beneficiaries or trustees, and if your trustee is willing to accept property additions from others, then other persons can contribute property to your trust.

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  • My Father passed away and left me 2 cars with clean titles and father signed both clean titles before his death.

    Can I just sell the cars and hand the new owner signed title, and new owner goes and transfer in his name, collect the cash, and be done with the sale??? Father passed less tha 90 days ago. Cars registered and insured in New Jersey at the pres...

    Thomas’s Answer

    If your father signed-off on the "pink" referring to the original certificate of title, and your state does not require a notarization on such signature, and if there is no registered lien-holder, you may be able to transfer title fairly easily. Go to the New Jersey DMV website and read through their instruction pages on vehicle transfers. There is likely an odomenter certification to sign and probably a sales or use tax to collect, which may require that you show you are the successor in interest, possibly by a small estate affidavit. You should check that DMV website, then call a New Jersey probate lawyer to make sure and get specifics as to steps involved,, but it sounds like you should be able to take care of this without major difficulty.

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  • My parents have been deceased for 3 and 5 years . All of their affairs have been settled for 3 years and nothing is left to do.

    How long do I need to keep the trust?

    Thomas’s Answer

    You don't mention whether or not you were your parents' successor trustee. If you were, and even when your parents have done estate planning (which they have since they had a trust), there is still work to do when someone dies. There is a statutory notice of irrevocability and change of trustee to be given to those entitled, and generally the trust will get separated into parts when the first trustor dies, in a husband and wife estate planning situation. There is an Accounting to do, and you want to be sure that no person has open time left to challenge your trust administration, if you were the successor trustee. An Accounting served upon all parties can start the statute of limitations running on claims against the successor trustee. You should take the trust in to a probate lawyer in your community and discuss these points with such person. Only then will you know if there is anything further to be done. It will be worth a short consulatation to you.

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  • Everything i own is in my fathers home.can you recomend a good low income or free lawyer to help me,i panicked and left .

    because i was fighting with my family.my mother (verbally)promised me and my father that she would allow me to remain in the house that i lived in for 6 years..i was'nt served a legal notice by my family.my fathers friends have heard him state tha...

    Thomas’s Answer

    First, you need to contact your local county bar association, look on line, there should be an office in the San Jose area. They should have a probate referral panel. Call them and tell them you need a "modest means" or small matter lawyer to help you with a probate consultation and possibly a letter. Then meet with that person. Probably you will be charged a modest fee, but I suspect it would be quite small for a consultation. If there is a bank account in your name somewhere, you should be able to collect it with a certified death certificate and the bank's form for such purpose, or possibly with a Small Estate Affidavit.

    As to the promise to be allowed to live in the house, that may be the subject of a creditor's claim, if you could substantiate the promise. Get a probate practitioner in the same county where your parent lived.

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  • Is this the abuse of POA? Are these women up to something? What power do they have to warrant them to make life decisions?

    An old lady I happen to know is supposedly given POA to her best friend. The truth is not known. She has been forceful removed from her condominiun and put in a home where she is locked and has no access to her house and mails. She claims to ha...

    Thomas’s Answer

    First you need to consider what type of power of attorney was used. Was it a general power, for business purposes? Or was it a health care power, for personal care and health directives? Was it durable, meaning that it had language enabling it to extend into a period of disability? If you haven't seen the instrument, you are guessing at what has happened. You should consider calling the principal's (your friend's) local adult protective services agency -- most counties have those -- and discussing your concerns with them. They have investigators who are able to look into elder abuse possibilities. But before you do so, I suggest discussing it wiht a Pennsylvania attorney, because you don't want to create problems for yourself should someone claim you have disparaged them by virtue of a slanderous report of elder abuse.

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  • What authority over and estate does power of attorney give an individual?

    mother appoints a son as attorney...8 other children are concerned that the estate is being handled in a corrupt manner. what procedures must be developed to determine if the above is true?

    Thomas’s Answer

    You didn't say whether or not the principal (your mother) is still living, or is deceased, or is disabled. If the power of attorney is a durable general power of attorney, it extends beyond her disability and up until the time she passes away. However, the agent (her son who is appointed attorney-in-fact) under most states' laws, owes a duty to account for his expenditures and transactions under the power of attorney. Also, other than for a very few limited items, varying by state--such as disposition of remains or funeral home instructions, which in some states is covered by the health care power, most power ends at the demise of the principal.
    You should consult a probate attorney in your mother's jurisdiction (Oklahoma?) to see when you can demand an accounting by the agent.

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  • Will an IRS ID Card help me or do I still need to go to do a Set aside Probate and what is a set aside Probate

    What is the difference between a set aside pobate and a regular Probate that does not have a living will and a living trust? all of the other banks I talk to said a living will and a living trust will give the successor trustee and the executor ac...

    Thomas’s Answer

    You didn't say how the bank account is held. If your father changed the title into the name of his revocable "living" trust, and the bank card was changed at the bank showing such ownership, you probably don't need to open an estate or prepare a Small Estate Affidavit. You would instead, prepare a Certification of Trust showing who the Successor Trustee is and that person should be able to access the funds, which are part of the trust. If the bank account is in your father's name and was never funded into a trust, then consider using a Small Estate Affidavit, by which the successor-in-interest can succeed to those funds. Note that the Successor -in-interest may not be you, it may be the successor trustee under an unfunded trust. A local Clark County probate attorney can walk you through this, it is not a difficult project. If neither works, you would need to open an estate. This will depend upon title to the account, and the amount in the account.

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  • In July of 1991 my mother signed a Will and Revocable Trust. Mother passed away in December............we have found the Will

    The problem is that the we cannot find the Revocable Living Trust. I tried to find the attorney that handled these items and all the numbers are disconnected. How can I find her. It sounds like she is not practicing any longer, but I am sure the...

    Thomas’s Answer

    The Will which you have found, is probably a pour-over Will, which should republish the original trust, if missing. You will need to make out the terms of the trust, with a copy or a draft, likely your mother received a discussion draft from her attorney during the estate planning process. Once the Will is admitted to probate, your attorney can ask the probate court to publish the trust as a testamentary trust, provided you can flush out the terms with drafts, notes, or a copy of the unsigned trust. Also, check the California State Bar's website and search on the member locator page. That will show you where the attorney is now, or if she is deceased. Also, write to the witnesses on the Will, their addresses are probably shown, and ask them for information on the attorney-draftsman.

    You will need a probate attorney to help you. If your mother also lived in Cypress, this will be an Orange County probate, so I suggest you talk with one of the local probate attorneys near the probate department. Contact your Orange County Bar Association for a probate attorney reference, or search this AVVO site for Orange County, probate.

    Best of luck to you.

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  • Husband works for grocery store and customer wants to leave her estate to him

    We dont know this woman, he knows her as a customer who likes chicken fried steak. But my question is what kind of taxes would we have to pay on her house and what other legal fees would we have to pay. Do we file her house on our taxes, do we c...

    Thomas’s Answer

    Usually in these cases there are some nephews or others lurking in the background, who will likely claim that Auntie was old, frail and susceptible to undue influence, "why she even gave a chunk of her estate to some fellow she met at the check-out line at the market!"

    What she does with her estate is up to her, but as a potential beneficiary, you don't want to be taking actions that could be seen as "persuading" her to carry out her intended largesse directed to you. Don't get yourself into a position of defending an undue influence claim, by doing things seen as encouraging such gifting. You want to be able to later say, "I never coaxed her to do a thing."

    As to taxes, those are essentially upon the decedent's estate, and if prorationing applies, taxes would be proportional to the property inherited by each beneficiary. She may well be under the present Federal Estate Tax exemption, any way.

    If this event transpires, you would then want to talk to a Texas probate lawyer about monitoring the estate, basis adjustment to inherited property, and related issues.

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