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Robert Paul Bergman

Robert Bergman’s Answers

206 total


  • Moving from New York to Palo Alto and was wondering if I will have any estate planning issues?

    I'm married, have a revocable living trust but not to many asset so estate tax is not an issue. I'm just concerned about community property because NY is not a community property state.

    Robert’s Answer

    I suggest you contact a local estate planning attorney to have your trust updated to reflect California law. The differences between New York and California in the estate area are striking, and you really should have your estate plan revised to reflect that.

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  • Which lawyer specialization I should seek to arrange who takes care of my young children when both parents die?

    My husband and I are seeking to work with a lawyer who deals with setting up trust for children upon the deaths of their parents. But we are not sure of the specialization field we should be looking at.

    Robert’s Answer

    I agree with the other attorneys. An attorney who specializes in estate planning is your best option. Besides planning for guardians for minor children through a Will or separate Nomination of Guardians, additional planning for small children may be advisable.

    Also, how property is passed on to children is crucial, especially when you factor in the various ways that inheritances can be lost after being received by a child.

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  • Amending Special Needs Trust

    Needing a Special Needs trust immediately in anticipation of an insurance settlement, can the trust be more finely tuned later.

    Robert’s Answer

    A special needs trust such as you describe would have to be established through the local Probate Court, because if the insurance settlement is for the benefit of the injured special needs person, it is actually their own property. Such a trust is called a "first party trust" or d4a trust, and you will need an attorney who specializes in such trusts. There are very specific requirements as to who can set up such a trust for the special needs person. I suggest you a member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners who will be able to assist.

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  • Annual expenses in maintaining Special Needs Trust

    Once a Special Needs Trust receives a social security number are there any annual fees due the state or Federal government. This has nothing to due with trustee fees, etc., etc.

    Robert’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Short answers. There are no annual fees due to the state or Federal government solely because a special needs trust has been created.

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  • Living trust not stamped by notary.

    My grandmother's living trust was drawn up by her attorney who also signed the document after her. Unfortunately, it appears he forgot to stamp it with the notary seal. Is the trust now invalid? Can it be recorded without the notary's stamp?

    Robert’s Answer

    First of all, there is no legal requirement that someone's living trust be recorded anywhere. A living trust is a private legal document, and would only become public is someone wanted to make a change or contested it after the death of the original creator of the trust, and then it would be filed with the local Probate Court.

    Second, there is no legal requirement in California for a living trust to be notarized at all to be valid. The failure to apply a notary seal by the attorney does not affect the validity of the trust at all. It would only potentially go to whether or not your grandmother actually signed the trust in the first place. It is likely that the attorney's notary journal was signed by your grandmother, which would provide proof of execution of the trust if that was challenged.

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  • In a Revocable Living Trust, can I make one daughter the beneficiary of house and both daughters the beneficiary of some stock?

    This in order so one daughter's creditors cannot attach her portion of the house and force a sale? Can creditors get her portion of inherited stock?

    Robert’s Answer

    The short answer is this: You can make one daughter beneficiary of your house, while both daughters are beneficiaries of some stock. However, to get creditor protection, it will be necessary to leave property "in trust" for the daughter you wish to be protected from creditors.

    You should consult with a local estate planning professional who can assist you with this type of planning.

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  • Living Trust, step up basis when second parent dies.

    Hi, My parents have a house worth about $2million in Palo Alto, Ca with a living trust. My father passed away in 2008 and we did an appraisal to get the stepped up basis, now my mother is very sick if she passes do we get a second step up...

    Robert’s Answer

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    The is likely "yes," provided that the home passed to your mother and she is now the 100% owner.

    However, if your parents had what is called an "A/B" trust, then there may have been a legal requirement to divide the home between the portion owned by your mother, and the portion owned by your father. If so, the portion owned by your father would NOT get the stepped-up basis.

    You will need to consult with an attorney to review the living trust and determine what, if any, trust administration was done back in 2008 in order to get a definitive answer.

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  • Executer trustee/brother removed.me from trust So he could collect more $$. is this legal???

    MY brother was trustee of my dad's estate, after dad died he amended trust to specifically remove me as beneficiary. That way he could get all the money after Mom died? is this legal? My dad would have not included his only biological daughter in ...

    Robert’s Answer

    There are not enough facts to answer your questions. If you suspect wrongdoing by your brother after your father and then your mother died, you need to consult with an estate litigation attorney in your area.

    A source might be www.estateplanning.com

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  • I inherited 1/3 of an income property in west hollywood in a trust

    my uncle owned 50 & of this and collected rent from a bank of america that is on the property, he's sold it while iw as in europe and cedars whom now apparently has his share is tryigto get everyone to sell , they are forcing and pressuring us to...

    Robert’s Answer

    You will need to get assistance from a local real estate attorney right away. You should know that if one or more owners of real estate do not wish to remain owners, there is a legal right to go to Court and request that the judge order the real estate to be sold. That is not the same thing, however, as forcing the sale of real estate for less than market value .

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  • The attorney who set up my living trust has vanished and has possibly been disbarred. Is my trust valid and properly recorded?

    I have four children who will each receive one fourth of my estate. I have loaned one child a substantial amount of money and need to know that the other three will get their fair share.

    Robert’s Answer

    The legal status of your attorney as being disbarred does not affect the validity of your trust. Also, the typical living trust is not actually recorded anywhere, but instead is kept private in the family.

    The greater concern is that you have expressed that you want your children to get their fair share because one of them has been loaned a substantial amount of money. Unless that loan is a valid loan (i.e. documented, such as with a promissory note, along with a list of payments received, etc.), there may be no specific way to offset the loan amount against the share of the child who received the loan.

    If you want to make sure that your estate is "trued up" between your four children so that it is fair, the trust itself should provide for that within the trust terms. Without a review of the trust document, an attorney cannot inform you whether or not your wishes will be followed or are documented in any way. You should consult with local legal counsel to have everything reviewed.

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