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Jeffrey Louis Gaffney

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney

Law Office of Jeffrey Gaffney
  • Elder Law, Estate Planning, Stockbroker & Investment Fraud
  • California
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Jeffrey Gaffney is a 24 year attorney and retired Navy Captain. Originally from New York, he moved to San Diego in 1985 and has remained here since, military duties permitting.

An attorney since 1993, Jeff is a graduate of the University of San Diego School of Law. He began as a law clerk in 1991, helping aggrieved investors recover from unscrupulous stockbrokers. A former registered representative ("used stock salesman") and principal (licensed manager of registered representatives), he began his own law firm in the midst of a scandal involving Prudential Securities' sales of limited partnerships. Since then, he has handled over 300 cases against brokerage houses.

Several years ago, Jeff combined trust and estates law into his practice -- a natural extension to the financial and planning advice he had been giving clients for years.

Jeff finished 30 years of active and reserve duty in March 2015. He enjoyed a successful career with eight years of active time, and 22 years of vigorous participation in the reserve. He led two major international exercises, served in the Middle East on several occasions, and had three command tours. His favorite job was a 2.5 year recall to active duty to run the Navy's history programs and museums; sadly this included being on the Navy Yard for the 2013 shooting.

An environmentalist, the Gaffney family has its own nonprofit organization to support sea turtle conservation, of which Jeff is the Treasurer ( He is also active with San Diego Coastkeeper. He enjoys summers in Central America working to preserve marine life.

A 1983 graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego, Jeff was named the outstanding graduate in his major. He graduated USD Law School in 1993. He later received a Masters in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College in 2004. Jeff is also a graduate of the non-resident (non-degree) programs of the Naval War College.

Practice Areas
  • Elder Law
  • Estate Planning
  • Stockbroker & Investment Fraud
  • Free Consultation
  • Contingent Fees
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
  • English: Spoken, Written
Professional Experience
Law Office of Jeffrey Gaffney
- Current
For 25 years I have helped regular people solve their investment and planning problems, I primarily do estate planning, but I am also familiar with conservatorships and stock broker malpractice and fraud. I am proud to have been helping the elde community with all manner of financial issues and look forward to doing it for many years to come.
US Navy
For thirty years I was a Naval Officer, Reserve and Active. I served as a Surface Warfare Officer, leading large groups of sailors in complex situations worldwide.
Clerk, then Attorney
Law Office of John Allen
My first legal job. I began as a clerk while still in Law School and stayed on after I passed the bar. I spent those years learning how to sue a stockbroker and fix their greedy sins.
Registered Representative and Manager
First Investors Corp.
After I left active duty with the Navy I became a "used stock salesman", which I hated. I left there to attend Law School.
SUNY Coll at Oswego
Undergraduate Degree
Univ of San Diego School of Law
Law Degree
US Army War College
M.A. (2004) | National Securities Studies
Military graduate school.
Distinguished Service Award
San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program
For my work with victims of domestic violence and elder abuse.
Meritorious Service Medal. Numerous and various lesser awards.
US Navy
Wide variety of military awards for superior performance.
National Meritorious Service Award
Operation Homefront
For work in helping to establish a new program for mobilized reservists.
Marion Mahar Award
State University of New York
Named the Outstanding graduate in my major for my undergraduate degree.
Black Belt, First Degree
International Tae Kwon Do Federation
Regents Scholarship
New York State
Academic scholarship granted to pay for my undergraduate tuition based on academic achievement.
Professional Associations
California State Bar
- Current
Elder Counsel
California Bar Association
Websites & Blogs
Legal Answers
32 Questions Answered

Q. My mother passed she has multiple bank accounts but only one is joint account with my father.
A: When someone dies intestate (without a Will), then their property is divided per the statute. The surviving spouse inherits all community property. The spouse and children share the separate property of the deceased, with the surviving spouse getting at least one-third no matter how many children there are. Community property is anything the couple earned or built together during the marriage. Separate property is whatever assets they brought into the marriage, plus anything they may have inherited during the marriage. It is more complicated than that and separate property sometimes changes to community property, but that is the basic idea. So your father is entitled to the accounts unless they were separate property your mother kept separate from him (that is, from the community). Depending on the size of the estate, he may need to go through a Probate process to get the bank to release the funds to him. If the amount is small enough, then a simple affidavit and certificate of death will do it. Check the web site of your local Probate court and it will explain the rules.
Q. Can wife qualify for Medicaid if husband's money is all going to residential care facility?
A: Yes she certainly can. Among the things to watch for is protecting her assets from "pay back" to Medi-Cal. If either or both spouses go into nursing home care, Medi-Cal will keep track of how much money they are spending and try to recover that money from the estate after they have both passed away. Your parents need to move their assets (especially their home) into a Trust of some sort to preserve it; if they already have a Trust then double check to make sure the deed to their real estate is in the name of the Trust. Also, when asking for Medi-Cal help for nursing home care, ALWAYS indicate that your parents intend to return home, or else their home will become an asset that can be used to pay their bills. Medi-Cal is a complicated system. If you want to make sure that our parents keep their assets for their heirs, you should speak to someone who knows the system.
Q. Four Morgan Stanley IRA accounts are listed in schedule "A", in a Trust.
A: That depends ... First of all, you almost never want IRAs or 401Ks in a Trust. Those sorts of retirement plans have named beneficiaries so that the money automatically goes to the beneficiary upon the death of the owner. Having the IRAs in a Trust serves no purpose. You could have a Trust as the beneficiary of an IRA but that would normally be a bad idea because the Trust has a much higher tax rate than people do, after about $13,000 of annual income. You could do it for a Trust that will have a great deal of deductible expenses, but that is rare. The exact listing of Schedule A of a Trust is not all powerful. It is far more important that the bank or brokerage house registration of the account is in the name of the Trust. You may also find language in the Trust that indicates that "everything I own belongs to my Trust" or a Pour Over Will that tries to do the same thing; many times the courts will honor that intent of the grantor/testator.
Q. Will California deny a long term care application if asset money was properly gifted?
A: You CANNOT gift the money away or sell anything below fair market value without causing a penalty period for Medi-Cal to cover her nursing care bill. You can spend it but you cannot give it away. You are not in any way liable for your aunt's care or her bills. A nursing home can evict people but they will probably work with you if you are trying to get your Aunt onto Medi-Cal.
Q. What paper do l file to have my Granny's will put inprobate
A: You need to go your county Probate Court's web site and they will give you very exact instructions. There are three different levels of Probate process in California. Which level you use depends on what assets your grandmother left behind. If she left no real estate and only moderate assets, then you can probably get away with one of the abbreviated two levels. You will have to take a sharp pencil and add up what she left behind. If her assets are high enough, or if there is any real estate involved, then you have to do real, long unpleasant Probate. You can pass that job to an attorney but the costs start at 4% of the GROSS value of the estate (not the value NET of loans and mortgages), so it can be expensive. Your basic petition is a form DE-111 which is the petition to open the Probate and have the court approve the WIll as valid and appoint the Personal Representative (executor). The web site will tell you what lesser forms are needed with it. You really need to buy a "How To" book on the process to make sure you don't miss anything important.
Q. I am being subjected to elder abuse by my live-in caregiver.
A: If you cannot just fire the caregiver,ort if she won't leave and no one in your family will help you, then you can ask the court for help. A court can grant a Restraining Order for Elder Abuse. You start by asking for a Temporary Restraining Order at the court house, then, if it is granted, it lasts for three weeks until you actually meet the judge so that both parties can explain the situation to the judge; the caregiver will be there too. The judge will then decide whether or not to make the Restraining Order more permanent. Most court houses have a Restraining Order clinic run by the Legal Aid Society or similar organization. Get there early and expect to spend most of the day there getting it done. If you get your Order, the sheriffs will take care of the rest. If you are limited in your mobility and cannot get yourself to the court house, you will need an attorney to help you get the Order. The Legal Aid Society may be able to find an attorney who will do it for free if you cannot afford it. Try your local bar association referral service for an attorney who can make a house call for you. If none of this works, call Adult Protective Services and tell them about your problem. I have always found them very helpful.
Q. Do i need a reason or show probate judge why i need to withdraw funds frm block acct.,how long does this process take?
A: When you file the petition form to get funds from the blocked account, you have to fill in exactly who will be getting the money and the purpose of the payment. How long it will take depends on your court and how backed up they are. Expect a few weeks at most.
Q. Do i need to get a court date just to ask probate court to release partial funds from block acct ?
A: A blocked account is one blocked by a court order. Therefore, you need a court order to unblock the account when you need to use the funds. What you need to file is an MC 357 (the Petition) and an MC 358 (the Order for the judge to sign). You will only see the judge for a minute, but you will need to see him.
Q. Is it elder abuse if my former landord refuses to refund my security deposit?
A: It certainly can be elder abuse, but you would have to prove bad faith by the landlord. Is it possible that you don't get your deposit back for legitimate reasons? If the landlord is just a crook, then I am afraid you may just have to sue to get it back. Try calling the Tenants Rights hotline for help: (888) 495-8020. The definition of elder financial abuse in California is: “Financial abuse” Under Cal. Pen. Code 15610.30 – Financial abuse" of an elder or dependent adult occurs when: (a) A person or entity does any of the following: (1) Takes, secretes, appropriates, or retains real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult to a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both. (2) Assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, or retaining real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult to a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both. (b) A person or entity shall be deemed to have taken, secreted, appropriated, or retained property for a wrongful use if, among other things, the person or entity takes, secretes, appropriates or retains possession of property in bad faith. (1) A person or entity shall be deemed to have acted in bad faith if the person or entity knew or should have known that the elder or dependent adult had the right to have the property transferred or made readily available to the elder or dependent adult or to his or her representative. (2) For purposes of this section, a person or entity should have known of a right specified in paragraph (1) if, on the basis of the information received by the person or entity or the person or entity's authorized third party, or both, it is obvious to a reasonable person that the elder or dependent adult has a right specified in paragraph (1).
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Contact & Map
7030 Via Cabana
Carlsbad, CA 92009
Telephone: (760) 809-9401
Law Office of Jeffrey Gaffney
1902 Wright Place Suite 200
Carlsbad, CA 92008
Toll-Free: (760) 809-9401