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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 38772
Experience:  I provide family and divorce law advice to my clients in my firm.
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My father passed away in 2002 and my step-mother did not file

Customer Question

My father passed away in 2002 and my step-mother did not file the trust with the county court (Los Angeles). I am almost certain that the trust is irrevocable but I cannot get her to let me see it even though my brother and I are beneficiaries. Now I find out that she has a serious problem with alcohol and narcotics and has been living in my father's house (which he had before they were married) and it is in shambles. My father's house is in his name on the title search while her house (which she had before they were married) is in both their names. She was supposedly collecting rent on her house but now turns out has been vacant for 5 years while she has been paying rent, utilities and taxes from what I believe is my father's business account. What a mess.
My questions:
1. Do I have a legal right to see the trust? I have asked my father's lawyer if he has a copy and if I can see it but have not heard back from him. I cannot get my step-mother to show it to me.
2. Can I legally sell my dad's home before it loses any more value as she has her home to live in?
3. She is not able to take care of herself or the 2 homes. I am not interested in filing for conservatorship and no one has DPOA or medical directive for her. She is a Danish citizen and moving her back to Denmark is an option. What rights do I have to my dad's estate while she is still alive but mentally and physically incompetent?
4. I live in the San Francisco Bay area...she lives in LA. I am an ER nurse and am not willing to take on the conservatorship of an alcoholic and addict-I know better. I need a referral for a good lawyer in Los Angeles, Any advise is appreciated.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question. I am sorry that you are in such a situation. I will take your questions one at a time so that I do not miss any.

1. Do I have a legal right to see the trust? I have asked my father's lawyer if he has a copy and if I can see it but have not heard back from him. I cannot get my step-mother to show it to me.
No you do not, unless such right was granted in the trust. Some trusts do not permit even the beneficiaries to see it. That does not take away your right to subpoena the documents and try to find out, but to get them to disclose the document to you would involve a court order.

2. Can I legally sell my dad's home before it loses any more value as she has her home to live in?
If it is in your name, you have the right to sell the property. If the home is under the trust or under someone else's name, you have no rights to the property and cannot force a sale.

3. She is not able to take care of herself or the 2 homes. I am not interested in filing for conservatorship and no one has DPOA or medical directive for her. She is a Danish citizen and moving her back to Denmark is an option. What rights do I have to my dad's estate while she is still alive but mentally and physically incompetent?
Impossible to answer until you see the trust. You personally do not have the rights to the estate as the wife (spouse) has the rights to the property unless otherwise stated in the will or the trust.

4. I live in the San Francisco Bay area...she lives in LA. I am an ER nurse and am not willing to take on the conservatorship of an alcoholic and addict-I know better. I need a referral for a good lawyer in Los Angeles, Any advise is appreciated.
We at JustAnswer are not permitted to provide you with a formal referral. What I can suggest is that you browse the listings at www.avvo.com and www.martindale.com. There you can search by fees, location, experience, expertise, and also review past client & attorney testimonials, as well as past disciplinary history.

Hope that helps.

Edited by Dimitry Alexander Kaplun on 8/1/2010 at 4:51 AM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your prompt reply. I didn't think I had many if any rights. What type of lawyer do I need to contact if I want to subpoena the documents? Do you have any suggestions for handling this situation without filing for conservatorship?
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your follow-up.

You really do not have many rights, but getting a probate attorney who has experience with litigation and trust work may at least get you the trust documentation to review. As for handling it without a conservatorship, the only other claim is to use that same attorney to file a breach of fiduciary duty suit against the trustee of the trust (who is probably the mother), get the trustee replaced, and find out that way as to what exactly is going on with the funds.

Good luck to you!

Edited by Dimitry Alexander Kaplun on 8/1/2010 at 5:09 AM EST
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 38772
Experience: I provide family and divorce law advice to my clients in my firm.
Dimitry K., Esq. and 2 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Once again, thanks for the quick reply. This has given me an idea as to what my options are. This is such a fantastic site--glad I found it and you. No more questions :)
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
You are most welcome :) Good luck to you and happy to have helped. If you have any other questions, please feel free to come back and we'll do our best to assist!

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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq.
Attorney at Law
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I provide family and divorce law advice to my clients in my firm.