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Janet Lee Brewer
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Janet Brewer’s Answers

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  • Are there companies that purchase future inheritance (like companies that purchase lottery winnings)? Is that even legal?

    Say that a person is the beneficiary of an estate, and according to a valid notarized will the person is to inherit a large sum of money, but that it might take 30 or so years until the person receives the inheritance. May the person legally se...

    Janet’s Answer

    There are companies that will buy inheritance rights, but I don't know of any that will do so until they are 100% certain of what you're going to receive. As the other lawyers said, a will can be changed until the very last moment, so no company is going to give you money now and take the risk that the will isn't changed later on.... companies that purchase lottery winners' earnings know the size of the jackpot and have 100% certainty that they'll get the money. Your situation is not the same.

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  • How can I get a copy of a Living Trust? My sister died in 2011 and her husband will not let us see the Living Trust.

    It was notoraized in Santa Clara County, CA

    Janet’s Answer

    I agree with the other two attorneys. In California you would not be entitled to see a copy of the trust unless you are an "heir" or a beneficiary. You would only be an "heir" as defined in the California probate code if your sister has no children and her parents are both deceased. You are only a beneficiary if you are named in the trust to receive a portion of your sister's estate.

    If either of these requirements are met (that is, you are an "heir" or you believe you are a beneficiary), then you can file a petition with the probate court to compel your brother-in-law to produce the trust. The county where your brother-in-law resides is the county in which the petition would need to be filed - so if he lives in Santa Clara County, you would file the petition with the Santa Clara County Probate Court.

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  • Can siblings who haven't provided any care for 89-yr. old mother refuse to let her come home or speak to me then get POA?

    Am 65, disabled, oldest sibling, for past 10 yrs. have been caregiver for 89-yr. old mom with Alzheimers. Last Oct. told 6 siblings house note more, paying burial ins. alone and had to give up my small biz., without help house would be sold by Ju...

    Janet’s Answer

    You need to contact the San Francisco Adult Protective Services agency, both for yourself AND your mother. Report what your siblings are doing as soon as you can!

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  • If a family member was appointed administrator of my aunts estate but is now having a hard time getting a bond, can I petition

    I live in my aunts home and I was her caretaker, is it too late to petition the court to appoint me since he is having a hard time?

    Janet’s Answer

    As Mr. Platon indicates, you can file a petition to be named as administrator. If you aren't bondable, there are ways around that issue.

    If you would like assistance, my office is in Palo Alto. But if you'd prefer to have your family member continue as administrator, tell him that he should talk to his attorney about the alternatives.

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  • Does it make sense to name your financial planner as executor of the will and financial power of attorney?

    My parents' financial planner wants to be named as executor of the will and financial power of attorney. We are in California.

    Janet’s Answer

    I agree with Mr. Fromm. In my experience most financial planners' broker-dealers prohibit them from acting as a trustee or executor in a client's estate.

    I'd be very wary of any financial planner who's lobbying for the job.

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  • My stepfather died 4 years ago. I supported him and my mother from 1990 to 1996. When my mother died, my stepfather left

    to live with another person. Do I have any rights to his property? Should I investigate where or not the other person was honest in dealing with my stepfather. He had significant property in his name.

    Janet’s Answer

    You say your stepfather died 4 years ago. Why have you waited so long to pursue this? You might have some rights to his property, but you don't provide enough information to be able to answer the question. One of the big issues is when did your mother die? If it was more than 15 years before your stepfather's death, then you have no legal right to any of his property.

    If your stepfather died less than 15 years after your mother, then there's a very slight possibility that you might have some rights - but only if he had no will (or trust), no spouse, and no children.

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  • Executor fee for Trustee

    What is the standard executor fee for a trustee/executor in Half Moon Bay, California. My uncle's estate consisted of several beneficiary designated bank accounts (total value (450,000) and his house in a irrevocable trust (value 680,00). Is ...

    Janet’s Answer

    If bank accounts are held in pay-on-death accounts - that is, accounts that have beneficiaries designated on them with the bank itself (rather than in a will which states "I give my XYZ bank account to John; I give my ABC bank account to Jane" and so on), then there is no fee involved with them - those accounts go directly to the POD beneficiary.

    If the house was held in the name of a trust and the house was the only asset in the trust, then the trustee fee would be based on the value of the house. If there were other assets in the trust, then the trustee fee would be based on the total value of all of the assets in the trust.

    How much that trustee fee should be depends on a number of factors - for example, what does the trust say about trustee compensation? Is it set at a specific dollars-per-hour or does it say the compensation needs to be "reasonable"? If it needs to be "reasonable", then the starting point is a determination of how much a bank or private professional fiduciary would charge for handling a similar trust.

    If you aren't a professional fiduciary, the Courts usually won't allow you to pay yourself as much as a professional would be paid ... one of the factors in determining the "right" compensation is the particular skills and training you're using in administering the trust. Presumably, a professional trustee (professional fiduciary) is more skilled at administering a trust than a non-professional. I've seen courts approve a fairly wide range of fees for non-professionals - $35 per hour to $150 per hour. Some courts are more generous than others.

    If you don't need to go to court for approval (you probably wouldn't need to go to court if the beneficiaries all agree your fees are "reasonable under the circumstances"), then it's a somewhat subjective determination of what's "fair". If you do need to go to court, you'll need to provide the court with solid reasons on what you did (in detail) and why you did it and why you think it's reasonable to get paid $X for having done it.

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  • If there's a clause in a Will that reads, "Anything under this Will to the contrary notwithstanding, the Executor is Prohibited

    ..from using any distributions from a retirement plan otherwise excluded from federal estate tax under internal revenue code section 2039(b) to pay inheritance, estate, or other death taxes or interst or penalties, or to pay debts or administratio...

    Janet’s Answer

    The short answer is that it's a clause designed to save taxes to the greatest extent possible.... you could call it a "heads up" to the executor that s/he needs to make sure s/he uses a competent tax professional who understands both estate taxes and income taxes to make sure a "rookie" mistake doesn't accidentally trigger a boatload of taxes.

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  • How do I change power of attorney from my Mother's sister to me?

    I live in San Francisco and my mother lived in Los Angeles, California. My mother's sister also lives in Los Angeles and got power of attorney when my mother came down with dementia. I want power of attorney to put my mother in rehabilitative care...

    Janet’s Answer

    I agree with Mr. Frederick. You'll need to petition the probate court to be appointed as your mother's conservator. However, given that she gave a POA to your aunt, the court might very well conclude that your aunt is the person who should be named as conservator (sometimes a POA form will contain a "nomination of conservator" clause that says something to the effect of "if a court concludes that I need a conservator, I nominate the person to whom I have given this power of attorney").

    If your mother lives in Los Angeles, then you will need to file your petition to be appointed conservator in Los Angeles.

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  • Can I personally own a vacation rental as TIC with my self-directed IRA?

    Trying to find a way for self-directed IRA to own real estate that I can legally use too. Perhaps each party owning a fractional interest? Shares managed professionally and funds kept separate?

    Janet’s Answer

    If you read the rules regarding self-directed IRAs, you'll learn that you cannot do this.... it's like trying to separate drops of water that are in one glass. You cannot own any interest in property that your IRA owns without having the IRS take the position that you've taken a 100% distribution from your IRA.

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