Skip to main content
Michael Philip Kerner

Michael Kerner’s Answers

7 total

  • My sister and I co-own a house as Joint Tenants. Will my property tax be reassessed if we change to Tenants in Common.

    Currently co-ownership is as Joint Tenants. Both of us are retired now and have owned the home for over 45 years. Current property tax is only $550 a year. House market value currently about $560K. We want to change ownership to Tenants in Com...

    Michael’s Answer

    Severing the joint tenancy and creating a tenancy in common will not trigger reassessment of the property.

    See question 
  • Are verbal wills recognized in California?

    Before he passed my Father left me a telephone message saying he wanted me to have everything. He was a widower, and my only brother passed last year (he has 2 children). Is the phone message recognized as a will?

    Michael’s Answer

    The phone message has no legal effect. In the absence of a will, your father's estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestate succession. Thus, you will inherit half of the estate and your deceased brother's children will inherit the other half.

    See question 
  • How to close or dissolve the company just endorsed?

    Dear sir or madam, I filed a CA corporation for my friend as the incorporator. Last week, I just received the endorsed articles from the State. However, my friend changes his mind and does not want to set up the company. My question is: Ho...

    Michael’s Answer

    You may file dissolution documents with the Secretary of State or just let the corporation "die on the vine." You will not be personally liable for California franchise taxes and penalties incurred by the corporation.

    See question 
  • Any tax obligation in California when the lender accepts to do deed in lieu?

    We have the loan amount more than the house value. We do not want to keep this house anymore.

    Michael’s Answer

    Any portion of a loan secured by real property that is forgiven by the lender can result in "cancellation of debt" income tax liability. There are exceptions under the tax code that apply in the case of cancellation of debt arising out of a loan obtained to purchase the property, but only if the property was used by the borrower as his/her principal residence.

    See question 
  • If a house is in a trust, is it safe from creditors?

    I am the trustee. My son is beneficiary of the trust upon my death. How safe is the house from creditors? From student loans while I am alive? After my death?

    Michael’s Answer

    If your trust is revocable (i.e., if you have the power to revoke) the assets held in the trust are subject to your creditors' claims as if there were no trust. Assuming there is a "spendthrift" provision in the trust, your son's creditors cannot reach the trust assets until they are actually distributed to him. Only an irrevocable trust can provide creditor protection. If you have a revocable trust it will become irrevocable at your death. If the trust continues on after your death for the benefit of your son he will have some creditor protection depending on the terms of the trust instrument.

    See question 
  • A friend loaned me money via his CA S-corp; he died and the corporation dissolved. How can I find out who my creditor is now?

    I'm pretty sure the man had a trust for his kids, but it's hard to get responses from them. I'd like to talk to my creditor to discuss the debt, but how do I find him/her/it?

    Michael’s Answer

    When the corporation was dissolved the assets remaining after payment of debts were distributed to the shareholders. It is likely that the shareholders were the beneficiaries of your friend's estate, and it is likely that the kids are the beneficiaries. If you really want to settle this debt you should ask the kids to identify the trustee of the trust and executor of the estate (probably the same person). He or she can tell you who inherited the stock and is therefore entitled to repayment of the debt.

    See question 
  • My mom died and my brother was the "executor?" of the estate and his name was on the deed of her main house.

    Now there was no will but all of her assets and bills were taken care of by my brother. This is in mass., but she had a vacation home in NH. I was told we would have put that home through a separate probate or wait a certain number of years and it...

    Michael’s Answer

    I know of no state law under which property can be "automatically" inherited (other than property held in joint ownership with right of survivorship). I believe you will have to pursue a probate case in New Hampshire. Depending on New Hampshire state law and the value of the property, New Hampshire may have an abbreviated form of probate available.

    See question