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  1. #1
    mike9565 is offline Junior Member
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    Stepmother blowing off trust, selling house and moving to Texas

    What is the name of your state? CA
    My father and stepmother were married in Calif. They were married 18 years. He has his house (the one I grew up in) in CA. She has hers in Texas. They'd live 6 months here, 6 months there. They have a living trust in CA. Both houses are listed as community property (not separated under A or B).When one of them dies the trust is to be split into a decedent's trust and a survivor's trust. The trust states that if my father dies first and my stepmother sells the Calif. house, that half of the proceeds go into the decedent's trust with myself and my sister named as beneficiaries, to receive the principal when our stepmother dies. The other half goes to the survivor's trust. Now the problem: My father died two weeks ago in CA. My stepmother put the Calif. house up for sale and a buyer signed papers the next day, thus it is now in escrow (not sure how long of an escrow). She refuses to do anything with the trust because she truly believes she doesn't have to do anything. She believes that my father left her everything and she can do whatever she wants with the money from the sale. She says my sister and I can have whatever is left when she dies (and she is a spendaholic!). She plans to pay off a second mortgage, credit card bills, and two car loans, as well as do major re-modeling on her home in Texas. I know she is not supposed to pay off debts from the money in the decedent's trust. She will not listen to me. In fact when I mentioned the need to split the trust into two or three subtrusts she hung up on me and will not take my calls anymore. She has "disinherited" me. I did leave a message with her estate attorney two days ago asking her to contact my stepmother. I don't know if she will. She has all of the house's belongings packed in a large trailer and she is ready to move to Texas as soon as the house is sold.
    My questions are: Should I obtain an attorney to stop the sale of the house and force her (legally) to set up the subtrusts? If so do I retain one in the county (San Mateo) where the house is located? Or where I live three hours away in Tuolumne County? Does my sister (in another county) also need an attorney, and if so, a separate one or can we both use the same one? My fear is that without legal action my stepmother is going to get the money and disappear in Texas and my sister and I will never see a dime. I know my father did not plan it that way. I guess I need to know how quickly I need to act. Also, should I let the real estate agent know of possible problems? Any advice is appreciated. Thank You!!
  2. #2
    Dandy Don is offline Senior Member
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    If possible do not have any more communications yourself with stepmother--she is grieving and even though you had a right to information, she considers you all money-grubbers who are not giving her time to grieve.

    You will need to get your own probate attorney to review the actions of stepmother and her attorneys to make sure they are acting correctly. Your attorney can check to see if the house title is in the name of the trust now, can review the trust, and can contact stepmother's attorneys to make sure the escrow money is handled correctly and whether more subtrusts need to be done or not. Your attorney does not need to stop the sale, just to make sure the money is handled in accordance with the terms of the trust.

    Do you have a copy of both the decedent's trust and the survivor's trust or is it all in just one document? Who is the trustee?

    Stepmother may not know what her actions should correctly and legally be, in which case your attorney can discuss the matter with her estate attorney, but since it appears she does have some legal advice, let's hope she is taking advantage of it.

    Your probate attorney can be from whatever county the death occurred in, and I assume that is in San Mateo.

    DANDY DON IN OKLAHOMA (tiekh@yahoo.com)
  3. #3
    rmet4nzkx is offline Senior Member
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    You can go online in San Mateo Co to check in the Recorders office if the property is recorded in the trust.
  4. #4
    mike9565 is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you Dandy Don and rmet4nzkx. I appreciate your feedback. My sister and I have contacted an attorney in San Mateo County who will review the trust and send appropriate letters to her. We felt this was necessary since my stepmother's estate attorney called me to say that my stepmother did not want her services anymore. We don't know if she will find another attorney or plans to not do anything. There is only one document. My stepmother is the trustee. Also, I did go online with the Recorder's Office and yes the property is recorded in the trust. Thank you again.
  5. #5
    rmet4nzkx is offline Senior Member
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    How old is your step-mother, is she competent? Sometimes older couples cover for each other and if the competent one dies first the remaing one may be less than logical. Here you say her attorney has been fired, either there is a disagreement or she is uncooporative or confused. When you retain counsel you may want to request an EC 730 evaluation. If you suspect that she is not competent you might call APS (800) 675-8437
  6. #6
    mike9565 is offline Junior Member
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    She is 75 years old and probably competent. I say 'probably' because she behaves as she always has, yet she even admits she is more forgetfull in the past two years. But even 15 years ago I believe she would have done exactly what she is doing now: not wanting any help and feeling she could do this on her own. She has sons and a brother from Texas with her in California since his death and I'm sure they are 'advising' her! Also, according to her previous attorney she fired her because she wanted a lawyer "closer to home". This could mean Texas (is that possible?) or closer than the 30 miles where that lawyer practiced. I will inquire about the EC 730. Thank you.
    Last edited by mike9565; 04-19-2005 at 10:44 AM.
  7. #7
    rmet4nzkx is offline Senior Member
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    You are welcome.

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