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California Estate Planning: What to Do if You Inherit a Library


rare booksOne of the most difficult tasks facing someone taking care of a loved one's estate is figuring out which items are valuable. We all know that inherited fine art can be very valuable and should be evaluated by a professional and there are endless blogs, magazines, and TV shows that discuss what to do with inherited antiques and furniture. There's a whole book about selling inherited collectible coins. But search for "inheriting rare books" and you'll find almost no information. Yet many people inherit libraries containing hundreds of books and have no idea if any of them are valuable or special. As a result, libraries often get little attention when they are inherited as part of an estate.

We encourage you not to make this mistake. Managing an estate can be complicated and overwhelming, but libraries can often be sources of hidden value, and thus should not be ignored. There's always a chance that tucked away in that library are a few rare first editions or hard-to-find antique items. But if you're facing hundreds of volumes and you have little experience with books, where do you start?

If you have the time to do research yourself, used book websites are an easy place to start. is the best known, but we prefer It gives you more search criteria to choose from and more ways to sort your search results. Plus, it pulls together data from many different book sites. To see if a book has sold at auction in the past, you can consult the American Book Prices Current database (, a tool that virtually every professional bookseller in North America uses.

However, most people don't have the time to enter all those titles and ISBN numbers on a website or go through entire libraries by hand. That's when you should consult an experienced rare book dealer. A rare book dealer will be able to quickly and reliably identify rare or unusual items in your library as well as give you a reliable estimate of what they're worth. The dealer will also be able to draw on their experience to weigh important factors such as a book's rarity, condition, and provenance (the book's ownership history)—factors that a layperson may be unaware of.

Most rare book dealers are willing to evaluate books and libraries and some will buy valuable books and collections. While it is easiest for book dealers to make evaluations in person, many dealers will usually be able to assess individual books based on written descriptions and good digital photos.

If you need help assessing your own library or rare books that you've inherited, RareBookBuyer has helped rare book owners for over thirty years and appraises rare and old books at no cost. The business often purchases pre-1800 material, fine bindings and sets, important illustrated works, limited edition, fine press books, signed books, scholarly works, illuminated and text manuscripts.

This is a guest post by Adam Weinberger, the owner of Rare Book Buyer. 

photo credit: Ian Sane via photopin cc

All the best,
Janet Brewer

Israelis in California: What You Need to Know About Guardianship Law


Israel estate planningAlthough it may be difficult to think about what may happen to your minor children in the event of your untimely death, it is vital to their future to plan for such a scenario. This is especially true for non-residents living in the United States, such as Israeli citizens living in the Silicon Valley, who may wish to nominate a guardian who lives overseas.

Ensuring the guardian of your choice is not as easy as letting your friend or relative know you wishes – or even as easy as including their name in your will. You will need to take several steps now in order to make more certain that your wishes are heeded in the event of an accident. Specifically, here are three things you should know about guardianship law in California if you are Israeli and have minor children:

  • Legally and culturally, California and the United States are very different. In Israel, as you may know, it is uncommon to write up a will or worry about the future of your children should something happen to you. Family is at the center of all things – and family members are usually close by. If you live in the United States, family members may be thousands of miles away. Even if they are nearby, they may not have the legal authority to care for your children, even in the hours and days after they lose their parents.
  • Naming a guardian in your will may not be enough. In California, the courts have the final say when it comes to who will act as guardian to your children. Although they take your will into consideration, they will also examine what is in the best interests of your child. It is vital that your will includes not only the name of your preferred guardian, but also why you believe this guardian is the best option for your kids.
  • Name a temporary guardian as well as a permanent one. If your preferred guardian is living in Israel, it will take them time to travel to the United States and officially gain custody. During that time, your children may be placed in the foster care system if you have not named a temporary guardian who lives close by.

At the Law Office of Janet Brewer, our estate planning attorneys can help you understand United Sates guardianship laws – and give you peace of mind that your children will be in the right hands in the unlikely event of your passing. Specifically, our guardianship attorney Einat Arbel, a member of Israeli community and a fluent speaker of Hebrew, can assist you in navigating the guardianship process, from drawing up your will, to understanding California law, to choosing temporary guardians.

To learn more about our legal services, or to talk to Einat Arbel about your legal needs, call us today at (650) 325-8276.

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All the best,
Janet Brewer

California Guardianship Law: The Best Interests of the Child


best interests of the childMany parents in California believe that if they name a guardian in their will, that person is without a doubt the one who will raise their children in the event of your untimely death or sudden accident. However, under California guardianship law, your will is just the starting point when it comes to choosing who will watch over your minor children after you are gone. The courts will review your case and determine what is in the best interests of your child. If your chosen guardian is the best choice for your child, they will in all likelihood become the guardian. But if another person proves to be the best choice for your child, according to the courts, you’re the desires outlined in your will may be overridden.

How do California courts determine the best interests of a child? A judge may ask the following questions:

  • Who is the child closest to emotionally?
  • Who will allow the child to live a stable, safe and comfortable life?
  • Is there a family member or relative who is already close with the child? Will the child be able to easily maintain family bonds?
  • Would it benefit the child to remain in his home, in his community, in the country where he grew up, and in the school he attends?
  • Does the child have unique cultural values that should be maintained or cultivated?
  • Who will give the child the love, attention, affection, and guidance that he needs?
  • Will the guardian be able to care for the child consistently and until the child is of age?
  • How will this placement affect the child’s psychological wellbeing?
  • How will this placement affect the child’s physical wellbeing?
  • Does the guardian have a criminal past or a history of domestic violence?
  • Will the child be removed from his current friends and community members?
  • Is the guardian motivated to care for the child?
  • Is the child old enough or mature enough to voice his own guardianship preferences? If so, what are they?

A Silicon Valley estate planning attorney can help you further understand how the best interests of your child can affect the court’s guardianship choice – and what you can do to make more certain that the guardian you wish to raise your child is chosen by the courts. Especially if your guardian lives overseas, it is important to take certain steps to ensure that your child is raised by the right person in the case of your death. Call the Law Office of Janet Brewer to learn more about California guardianship and to safeguard the future of your children, whatever comes to pass: (650) 325-8276.

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All the best,
Janet Brewer

California Guardianship Law: The Difference Between Guardians & Trustees


guardian of the personWho will care for your minor children in case something happens to you and your partner? Who will helped them through their day, make sure they are safe and fed, and teach them to be good people and good citizens? Who will care for their financial needs and education? While many people assume that one person will fill all of these roles for your kids, the truth is that you may wish to choose multiple people to hold different responsibilities.

What is a guardian?

There are actually two types of guardians: guardians of the estate and guardians of the person.

The guardian of the person is legally responsible for physically caring for your child: on a day-to-day basis, they provide your child with necessities like food and shelter as well as psychological needs like love, care, and affection. A guardian of the person also makes decisions on your child’s behalf regarding school, community, healthcare, culture, and religion.  

The guardian of the estate is legally responsible for the assets (such as money or property) inherited by the child before that child turns 18 and becomes a competent adult. The guardian of the estate makes financial decisions regarding your child.

What is a trustee?

If there is a Trust in place for your children, a trustee will be needed to manage, safeguard, and distribute it. While a guardian of the estate manages the child’s property, a trustee manages the child’s Trust. The trustee will give the guardian of the estate funds to care for the everyday needs of the child, including food, clothing, and education – though these actual needs are physically supplied by the guardian of the person.

Who should I choose for each role?

In some cases, the guardian of the person, the guardian of the estate, and the trustee could all be the same person. In other cases, three different people could be named. For example, an adult child over the age of 18 may be named guardian of the person (for his or her younger siblings) but may not be mature enough to act as guardian of the estate or trustee. In international guardianship cases, the trustee and guardian of the estate will usually not be the same person.

A California estate planning attorney can help you better understand who you should appoint as your guardian and trustee – and the lawyers at The Law Office of Janet Brewer often help international clients with the special issues surrounding guardianship and trusts overseas. To learn more about our legal services, or to get your specific guardianship questions answered, call us today to schedule a consultation: (650) 325-8276.

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All the best,
Janet Brewer

California Estate Planning: How to Choose the Right Guardian

choosing a guardian

If something happens to you, what will happen to your children? Although it is painful to think about, planning for your children’s possible future without you is an act of love and show of responsibility. But although deciding to write a will is easy, deciding who will care for your kids can be quite difficult. Below, we’ve shared eight tips for parents who are choosing a guardian for their children:

  • Think about the best interests of your child. This is not the time to worry about your mother-in-law’s hurt feelings or your sister feeling left out. This is the time to think about which home your children will thrive in and who will give your children the love and affection they will need.
  • Don’t rule out non-relatives. Although there are advantages to choosing family members (family may have similar cultural or religious backgrounds, for starters), your children may be best suited to be raised by friends. If your child has a close relationship with a family in your community, they may be an ideal choice for guardian.
  • Be practical. Realize that although your grandmother might be the best person in the world, she is probably too old to raise your baby. And realize that if your perfect choice already has eight kids, adding yours might not be ideal for anyone. Look beyond the person and consider what the reality will be.
  • Think about values. Some people only consider factors like location and relation when it comes to guardians, but the truth is that these people will raise your children: they will make important decisions related to your kids’ health, safety, morals, philosophies, social values, and religious beliefs. It isn’t enough that your uncle has a big house and lives in your school district – will he be a loving and kind guardian?
  • Realize that no one is perfect. Yes, we want the absolute best for our children. But we should also realize that no one can be the perfect parent (not even us). The reality is that even your best options will have drawbacks. Just be sure to pick someone who fulfills your most important requirements.
  • Ask permission. Speak to the family or friends that you are considering. Be open and honest about what you are requesting as well as what you can offer them in terms of financial assistance – such as how much insurance you have. Give them time to think it over.
  • Understand you might need two guardians. Many people don’t know that they can choose one guardian for their children’s estate (or trust) and a separate guardian for their children’s physical care. If your top choice for guardian of person isn’t good with finances, consider someone else for that aspect of the job.
  • Know you can change your mind. Your choice isn’t written in stone. Sometimes things change (death, divorce, differences of opinion) and you will needs to change, too. Just be sure not to put off updating your legal documents, or your children could end up being raised by someone other than who you had in mind.

Once you have made your choice, a Silicon Valley estate planning attorney can help you make your decision official. To book a consultation today – or to get your questions about California guardianship law answered – call The Law Office of Janet Brewer today: (650) 325-8276.

photo credit: Robert Whitehead via photopin cc

All the best,
Janet Brewer

International Estate Planning: The Importance of a Temporary Guardian


foreign guardianYou may have spent considerable amounts of time choosing a guardian for your minor children in case something happens to you and your spouse – but have you taken the time to choose a temporary guardian as well as a permanent one? Especially for people who have chosen guardians outside of California and the United States, naming a temporary guardian is an important step toward caring for and protecting your children even after you are gone.

What does a temporary guardian do?

A temporary guardian will care for your children in the direct aftermath of your passing. In California, the court must make the final determination of guardianship and until that decision is made official, a temporary guardian will serve. You can appoint a temporary guardian for the care of your children as well as a temporary guardian for the care of your estate.

The person you appoint as your temporary guardian and the person you wish to be permanent guardian may be the same person or a different person.

Why are temporary guardians important?

In the event of your untimely death, where will your children go as soon as they find out? If you have a temporary guardian, you can rest assured that they will immediately be in the care of someone they know and trust. Without a temporary guardian, you children may be temporarily placed in the foster care system – among strangers and in an unfamiliar environment.

Temporary guardians are also vital if you are nominating someone from abroad to act as your children’s permanent guardian. It will take time for the guardian to arrive from overseas and even more time for the court to make a final decision regarding the case. During that time, it is helpful to have a nearby temporary guardian to comfort and care for your kids until logics and legal issues are resolved.

How should I choose a temporary guardian?

The factors that go into choosing a temporary guardian differ from the factors that go into choosing a permanent guardian:

  • First and foremost, choose someone who lives close by and who can access your children quickly in case of an emergency.
  • Choose someone that would be able to take your children into their home immediately: someone with the room and resources to keep your kids safe and comfortable.
  • Choose someone who would not fight in court to keep your children permanently against the wishes outlined in your will.
  • Choose someone who is close with the person you have chosen as your children’s’ permanent guardian – or someone who is willing to get to know that person.
  • Choose someone who will be kind and loving to your children.

How do I appoint a temporary guardian?

A California estate planner can help you plan for the future and ensure that your children have the love and care they need whatever may pass. To get your questions answered about temporary guardians and guardianship, or to request a private consultation, call the Law Office of Janet Brewer today: (650) 325-8276.

photo credit: Peter Werkman ( via photopin cc

All the best,
Janet Brewer

Nominating Non-Resident Guardians for Your Children in California


Legal guardianIn the event that you and your spouse could no longer take care of your minor children, who is best suited to do the job? For many first-generation families living in the United States, the best guardian for their children still lives abroad: a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin or friend. Especially in California’s Silicon Valley, where a significant number of residents have visas or are new citizens, the people closest to your family may be, physically, very far away.

 When it comes to nominating a non-resident guardian for your child, there are several things you should know about guardianship, California law, and estate planning:

  • The court appoints your child’s guardian, not you. Although you can nominate a guardian for your child, the court has the final say in the matter in California. While there is nothing you can do to absolutely ensure your child’s guardian, there are several steps you can take to make it more certain.
  • The court makes decisions based on the best interests of your child. Your child’s needs are the most important consideration when choosing a guardian. In some cases, in California, there is a preference for having a child stay in the United State and in California, especially if the child is familiar with the culture and the community.
  • You may have to make a case for your non-resident guardian. Because the court sometimes prefers to keep the child in their home state and home country, they like to have good reason to move the child overseas. If you are nominating an overseas guardian, outline why this guardian is the best choice in your will. You may also want to add why what might be an obvious choice in the United States would not be ideal.
  • You need to appoint a temporary guardian as well. Because your non-residential guardian will need time to get to the United States, and because your children will need immediate care, take the time to appoint a nearby, temporary guardian for your kids. Not appointing a temporary guardian could mean that your children enter the foster care system.
  • The guardian will need to inform the court of any change in permanent address. If the child or children will be living with a non-resident outside of California, the guardian must make the court aware of that move and supply the court with the new address within 30 days. This rule is in place so that the court does not lose track of the minor’s care and wellbeing after the guardianship decision is made.

Naming a guardian for your children who does not live in California is a more complex and complicated process than naming a guardian who lives down your street. However, at the Law Office of Janet Brewer, we can help you make more certain that your wishes are heeded. To nominate a guardian and temporary guardian for your children, or simply to learn more about estate planning in California, call us today: (650) 325-8276.

photo credit: James Jordan via photopin cc

All the best,
Janet Brewer

California Guardianship: Choose an Alternate Guardian for Your Kids!


guardianship lawYou’ve nominated the perfect guardian for your kids: your caring, secure, and stable parents, who love and know your kids well. But what happens if something goes wrong during the guardianship process? What if, for one reason or another, your parents are not able to take your kids if something happens to you?

Although it is unlikely that your minor children will ever require a guardian – or that your primary guardian choice will not be available – these situation can and do happen. It is vital that you name an alternate guardian (or guardians) so that your children’s future is secure, no matter what happens. 

Why would you need an alternate guardian?

  • The primary guardian is unwilling to care for your children. Even if you asked your potential guardian if you could list them in your will as guardian – and even if they accepted the responsibility – they could realize that they don’t wish to care for your children when reality hits. Whatever their reason for not wanting to take on your kids, you don’t want an unwilling and unengaged person to have custody of your children.
  • The primary guardian is unable to care for your children. Things change over time. It may be that by the time the guardian of your choice is needed, circumstances have changed. Your primary guardian choice may be too old to care for your children, suffer from health problems, or have serious financial issues. Or perhaps their family situation has drastically changed. In these cases, having an alternate guardian can make certain that your children are placed with someone who can take them – and someone that you love and trust.
  • The State of California doesn’t think your primary guardian choice is best. The California courts have the final say over who will be your children’s guardian. If they reject your primary source for one reason or another, they will have to name another guardian. If you have provided an alternate name, they will likely examine that choice next.

At the Law Office of Janet Brewer, we can ensure that your children will be safe and cared for in the event that something happens to you and your partner, from naming an alternate guardian to correctly nominating guardians in your will. To learn more about our estate planning services, or to request a consultation, call us today: (650) 325-8276.

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All the best,
Janet Brewer

California Guardianship Law: Transferring Assets to a Non-Resident Guardian


describe the imageCalifornia guardianship law can be confusing and complex, and guardianship issues that involve a non-resident guardian can be even more complicated. If you have nominated a guardian who does not live in the United States, you should know that many aspects of the legal process are different, including how the non-resident guardian of the estate receives assets.

In California, the non-resident guardian must submit a petition to transfer assets to another country. In addition, the foreign jurisdiction (that is, the home country of the non-resident) must be made aware of the impending asset transfer.

Why do these rules exist? For the safety of the child. The State of California wants to ensure that the child’s welfare is not in jeopardy overseas, that the foreign jurisdiction is monitoring the child and guardian, and that the assets transferred across the border will in fact benefit the child.

Here are a few more things that you should know about transferring assets to a non-resident guardian:

  • Your petition should outline to the California courts that the guardian receiving the assets can be held accountable by the foreign jurisdiction.
  • You should understand that some assets, such as real property in California, may remain in state and could require a California-based guardian.
  • Your attorney will need to speak with legal counsel in the foreign jurisdiction so that he or she fully understands the correct procedure for informing the foreign jurisdiction of the asset transfer.
  • The California court is most interested in knowing that the minor’s rights and welfare will be protected by the foreign jurisdiction. Any information about the non-resident guardian and the guardianship process in the foreign jurisdiction may help assure the courts that the asset transfer is in the child’s best interests.

Keep in mind that there could be more than one guardian involved in your case: a guardian of the person, a guardian of the estate, or even a panel of guardians. There also may be a trustee. Understanding everyone’s role in caring for the child is vital to ensuring that the child is cared for, comfortable, and loved.

If you are nominating a non-resident guardian for your children, you may wish to consult with an experienced Palo Alto estate planning attorney. Call the Law Office of Janet Brewer today to arrange a private, confidential consultation: (650) 325-8276.

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All the best,
Janet Brewer

Choosing a Foreign Guardian in California? Three Vital Clauses for Your Will


small 3531044626In our last blog post, we discussed the five clauses that every parent should include in their will to ensure that their children are raised safely and correctly – and by the friend or family member of your choice. In this post, we will discuss three more clauses that you should include if you are planning to nominate a foreigner as your permanent guardian.


  • Give your temporary guardian the power to file a petition for permanent guardianship for the your foreign guardian choice.  One of the issues that makes choosing a foreign guardian more complex is simply the problem of distance. After a sudden accident, it will take time for your permanent guardian to arrive in the United States and even more time for them to navigate the legal system. By giving your temporary guardian the power to file a petition for them, you can expedite and simplify the process.
  • Give the guardian nominee the right to petition for appointment in the guardian’s county. Again, this clause will simplify and expedite the process of your children being place with the guardian of your choice.
  • Give visitation rights to the foreign guardian nominee. Under California law, unless otherwise stated, the temporary guardian has complete discretion regarding visitation. Therefore, this clause ensures that your nominee for permanent guardian will be able to see and spend time with your children during the legal process leading to guardianship.

In addition to these clauses, you should also make certain that your temporary guardian nominee and your permanent guardian nominee know each other and understand what will happen in the event that you can no longer care for your children. If they have been introduced, are comfortable with each other, and understand your wishes, the chance that your children can seamlessly transition into their care increases.

Are you planning to nominate a foreign, non-resident guardian in your will? Choose a California attorney who has extensive experience in and knowledge about this area of law. To draft your will, or simply to learn more about guardianship in California, call The Law Office of Janet Brewer today: (650) 325-8276.

photo credit: James Jordan via photopin cc

All the best,
Janet Brewer

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