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James Edward Berge

James Edward Berge

Berge & Berge LLP
  • Elder Law, Estate Planning
  • California
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Practice Areas
  • Elder Law
  • Estate Planning
  • Free Consultation
  • Credit Cards Accepted
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
Professional Experience
Estate Planning Attorney
Berge & Berge LLP
- Current
Golden Gate University School of Law
LL.M. | Taxation
Honors: Cum Laude
Santa Clara University School of Law
J.D. (1986)
Honors: Cum Laude
Santa Clara University
B.S. (1981) | Accounting
Honors: Magna Cum Laude Alpha Sigma Nu
Elijah Watt Sells Award
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Top 100 Score in the Nation on May 1981 Uniform CPA Exam
Professional Associations
California State Bar # 126568
- Current
Articles & Publications
Special Needs Trusts: Planning, Drafting and Administration
University of California Continuing Education of the Bar
Estate Planning in Santa Clara
California State Bar
Websites & Blogs
Legal Answers
17 Questions Answered

Q. Can I be legally reimbursed (from my mother's bank account) for expenses incurred doing home repairs on her house?
A: It depends on whether your power of attorney is durable, whether your authority under that power of attorney is effective immediately or only upon incapacity, and the express powers given to you. It also depends on whether that power of attorney remains effective or has been revoked.
Q. For a Will in the state of California do I have the option of 2 Witnesses or 1 Notary Public?
A: No. Wills cannot be notarized in California. You have two choices: either two witnesses sign your Will in your presence at the same time that you sign it (a formal Will), or your Will is entirely in your handwriting (no witnesses; holographic).
Q. My friend left his house to someone when he passed about a month ago the person who was willed the house also died
A: It depends on when the donee died. If before the decedent’s death, then no. If shortly after the decedent’s death, then yes. Likely in the latter instance a probate on the first estate will be required and simultaneously a probate on the second estate will also be required. If the value of the property is under $150,000, you might be able to avoid a prolonged probate. Call a probate attorney right away for further advice. Good luck!
Q. Would I have rights to my house, if my moms dying wishes, with out a will, & possibly just a verbal agreement
A: All agreements concerning real estate must be in writing, so you would probably lose on your contractual claim, but you might succeed if you could prove with clear and convincing evidence that your aunt intended to deceive your mom and profited from that deception. Your claim would be based on tort law, including fraud, misrepresentation, duress, mistake of law or fact, undue influence, and/or lack of incapacity. Find a good trial lawyer and see if you have a case. This is likely not a case that you can handle on your own. Good luck!
Q. In santa cruz county how long does a conservator have to generate a final accounting following the death of the ward?
A: There is no hard and fast rule. A conservator must file his petition for approval of account when all the information required to be disclosed in the account has been obtained and summarized. A conservator may delay this petition until a probate has been opened in the name of the beneficiary of the conservator's estate, causing further delay. A conservator must continue to act as manager of the conservatorship estate until discharged by the court and an order obtained on distribution of the conservatorship estate.
Q. My mom died and resided in California. She has an account in Ohio I need to close. Total assets 25,000. Probate?
A: It’s not the law of the state where the account is located that matters. It’s the law of the state where your mom resided at the time of her death. She resided in California at the time of her death, so California law governs this situation. As John suggests, you should be able to collect the account using a small estate affidavit procedure under Calif Probate Code section 13100 with the need for a formal probate. Forms are readily available on the internet. Good luck!
Q. My mother passed and left me a will Incase my father did not carry out her wishes
A: You're correct that joint tenancy implies the right of survivorship and to dispute the form of title requires clear and convincing evidence. You might have that evidence, but you'll need to prove it in court by a petition filed under CA Probate Code section 850. A bank will not release joint tenancy funds to you without a proper court order establishing you as the rightful owner of the property.
Q. California: In hoarder cleanup for deceased, only will we found was from 1988 that doesn't reflect current $1M+ assets.
A: It’s the job of the attorney for the executor to help the executor in carrying out his or her duties as executor. If you’re in doubt about what those duties are, re-read the Duties and Liabilities form you signed when became executor. It’s the job of the executor to carry out the terms of the decedent ‘s Will, not to re-write it. It would be entirely inappropriate for you to seek to contest the Will that you are charged with enforcing. You cannot seek to establish the validity of the Will while simultaneously trying to invalidate it, but perhaps I misunderstood your question. May I suggest you simply take what you’re entitled to under the Will, and after the probate is over, if you choose, to give away part of it to whomever you choose.
A: Since your father left everything to you through his Will, everything goes to you. It's up to you to decide whether or not to share it with your brother's children. If you haven't already done so, you should consider doing a Will for yourself.
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1101 S Winchester Blvd Ste I-208
San Jose, CA 95128
Telephone: (408) 985-9918
Fax: (408) 985-9945