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Benjamin James Sowards

Benjamin Sowards’s Answers

27 total

  • What rights do I have as a tenant with mold in our rental when landlord refuses to provide mold inspection?

    We are on month to month and discovered that smell was coming from under the kitchen sink due to water leakage from outside. We are not responsible for mold but landlord is demanding for us to vacate without providing alternative housing. We are l...

    Benjamin’s Answer

    If Landlord refuses to conduct inspection, since this is a residential unit, you are allowed to pay for the inspection yourself and then deduct from the rent. Your requests must not be unreasonable and you must give the LL notice that you will conduct the inspection without him if he refuses to proceed. If there is a safety issue, the LL can require you to vacate. You should receive back your deposit as long as no damage caused by you beyond normal wear and tear.

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  • Can I represent myself inprobate court? My sister won't put the property in my name and my mother wishes are not being met

    I want my sister to put my inherited property in my name already over a year now.

    Benjamin’s Answer

    Yes you can. It does happen from time to time, although it is best to hire an attorney. The probate court in Santa Clara County is very busy - it is the largest county in the SF Bay Area. The Judge (Hon. Cain) is well versed in the law and is often sympathetic to individuals without an attorney (pro per). The probate examiners and clerks are also very helpful. However, there are strict rules to keep the probate process moving and if you mess up those rules or filing requirements your case could be dismissed. You may want to consider working with an attorney for a one hour consultation to see what can be resolved informally without going to court. You should take any wills or trusts to the attorney so that she/he can give you their best legal opinion. Your mother's written wishes should be followed. Something she might have mentioned, but never documented, is not likely to be followed by the personal representative or the courts. It is best to assert yourself early in the process to make sure that the successor trustee or personal representative is following California law.

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  • If I am 80 years old and I am under a conservatorship by the Office of Public Guardian..

    which petitioned me in a hospital where a court investigator interviewed me and I opposed it entirely and stated to the CI " I want the county top leave me alone and I want out of this hospital and added my son is my care taker and I asked him to...

    Benjamin’s Answer

    This can happen when the county believes that those around you are scamming you or taking advantage of your situation. Generally, the county is looking out for your best interest. If, however, you disagree, consider hiring a court appointed / approved conservatorship attorney to work on getting your conservatorship removed or to allow you to work with a private fiduciary. I've seen this happen in Santa Clara County recently.

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  • Can a trust gift money to a beneficiary

    Can a family trust gift money to a beneficiary and are there any limitations on it? Thanks Jb

    Benjamin’s Answer

    Yes. It is possible. What does the trust say on the subject? First, you always look to the trust document to see what it allows or disallows. Some inferior trusts or those produced online or in a "trust mill" are often silent on these issues. You may need to work with the successor trustee and a lawyer to determine what is appropriate under the circumstances. Often people set up trusts with specific gifting guidelines (e.g. $10,000 when X graduates college). First review the trust on your own to see if can determine the anwer on your own. If you need help, consider a local reputable attorney in your area.

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  • My mother's living trust was never funded.

    Can I file a Heggstad petition myself? Can I avoid probate? There are two houses that are said to be IN the trust (signed and notarized by lawyer) but they were never actually put IN the trust. Can the lawyer be held accountable?

    Benjamin’s Answer

    You will be able to avoid a full probate. You will need to file the Heggsted petition in order to have a judge approve the transfer. You will be out filing fees (about $400), plus whatever it takes the lawyer in time to prepare the materials. If the lawyer is good, and the court understands everything submitted, the lawyer likely won't even need to attend the hearing. You can expedite the process by paying a little bit more to the court and going Ex Parte. That way you get moved up in the wait list and get your matter heard ahead of schedule. I've never seen a client attempt this on their own, but I suppose it could be done if you have enough time to figure it out. It isn't rocket science, but it can be difficult to navigate all of the local court rules and the California Probate Code.

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  • Must a corporation or organization incorporate in the state in which it intends transact business in order to have legal autho

    the last sentence of my question is legal authority.

    Benjamin’s Answer

    No. But you should register as foreign corporation and be authorized to transact business in your state of domicile.

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  • Do I need to obtain legal guardianship of my younger sister who will be living with me?

    My Dad and Stepmom are moving out of state and my sister will be living with me to continue her schooling. She is 15 and will be with me at least until she is 18. Should I become her legal guardian? What are the pros and cons?

    Benjamin’s Answer

    Since it sounds like you will be the primary caregiver for the next 3 years, I would seriously consider becoming her guardian. As her guardian you will be able to make her medical decisions - something the doctors and hospitals likely won't allow otherwise. Also, as her guardian you can talk with her teachers and principals, sign her out of class, help with financial decisions, etc. I would recommend you seek out an attorney that does guardianships or go to the court and find a guardianship clinic. In San Diego we did guardianships for free for the indigent.

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  • I was driving with a suspended license and received a traffic ticket (speeding) What should I be expecting & what should I do???

    I was only one week to being back to NORMAL. Argggg

    Benjamin’s Answer

    Usually you can fight traffic tickets on your own. Here, however, you should hire a lawyer that specializes in traffic court defense.

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  • Will I be granted traffic school option for speeding ticket 17 mph over limit in CA?

    I was driving on I-15 South from Vegas and was pulled by CHP for driving 87 mph in a 70 mph zone. It was at Baker's Grade, which is one of the steepest grades in the country. This is my first auto ticket of any kind so I have a clean driving recor...

    Benjamin’s Answer

    Yes you should. Be respectful and the judge should allow it.

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  • I'm interested in starting a business, I already have the name, I wanted to know if I can get a grant to start this business

    Can I get a grant to start my business or possibly a credit card

    Benjamin’s Answer

    There are all sorts of grants available for small business owners. You will need to do lots of checking with public and private agencies to determine if you qualify. For most business owners, it is unlikely that anyone will give you a grant. However, you should still check. Some towns give tax breaks or grants for businesses that locate in an area they are trying to build up.

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