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Thomas Devlin Begley

Thomas Begley’s Answers

287 total


  • Within 5 days of my mother's death, my sister filed a "Complaint for probate of will" in NJ. What papers should I have gotten?

    I didn't receive anything. No copy of the will, no copy of the probate, nothing. Who should have notified me of the probate? And what are the consequences to her if she didn't tell the court about me being next of kin? She claims she was named...

    Thomas’s Answer

    A Will can get filed in one of two manners. The first and most common is ex parte. That is when the Executor brings the Will into the Surrogate's office along with a certified copy of the death certificate and a filing fee. The Will can be filed at any time; however, it will not be admitted to probate until ten days after a testator's death. If it is admitted in this manner, no prior notice needs to be given to any party. However, a notice that the Will has been probated must be servied on all heirs under the Will plus next of kin (whether or not they are mentioned in the Will) within 60 days after the Will has been admitted by the Surrogate. The notice must either provide a copy of the Will or let those receiving notice that they have a right to a copy of the Will without charge from the Executor. Having said that, if the Will is filed, you can obtain a copy from the Surrogate. The second way a Will gets filed is through solemn form. That is when the Executor has to get approval from the Superior Court to have the Will admitted to probate. In that case, a notice of the hearing as well as any relevant pleadings must be provided in advance to the same group of individuals. Good luck.

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  • My brother won't show me the will what can I legally do?

    I don't want him in our mothers house with out seeing the will first what do I do?

    Thomas’s Answer

    Per Rule 4:80-6 of the Rules of the New Jersey Superior Court, an Executor of a Will must notify all of the beneciaries named in a Will as well as those people who would inherit if there was no Will within sixty (60) days after the Will has been admitted to probate. The Notice must provide each party who receives the right to obtain a copy of the Will without cost. If the Will has been filed, you can get a copy nevertheless at the Surrogate's office in the county in which your mother resided at the time of her death. If it hasn't been filed, you have a variety of options which will likely entail litigation such as going to court to be the administrator of the estate or compelling the production of the Will. Good luck.

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  • As one of the beneficiaries of an estate settlement, can I audit the executor?

    The executor is my brother and is taking too much time dispersing the monies. I would like to see the progress or lack of progress and audit his records.

    Thomas’s Answer

    Absolutely. An executor of an estate has an obligation to provide information to its beneficiaries in a reasonable and timely fashion. Having said that, the beneficiaries have to give a proper amount of time for the executor to do his or her job which can vary due to the size of the estate and any complexities such as difficult assets to move or issues with creditors. The law provides that you can compel the executor to provide an accounting if one year has elapsed since his appointment as executor. This accounting must detail all assets received by the executor on behalf of the estate, all income earned and disbursed, all disbursements of principal and a proposed form of distribution.

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  • LIVING TRUST IN PA

    HI, IT WILL BE OK IF I DO IT ONLINE , HAVE 2 WITNESSES AT SIGNATURE AND THAN NOTARIZED? MINE IS SIMPLE. DIVORCED, TWO CHILDREN, 21 & 10, ONE HOUSE PAID IN FULL, BANK ACCOUNT, LIFE INS. EACH CHILD GETS 50% OF WHATEVER I HAVE AND THE 21 OLD WILL BE ...

    Thomas’s Answer

    In my opinion, people that peddle online Wills and Trusts are as disreputable as attorneys who provide poor work and charge too much. Estate planning is more than "filling in the blanks". Your situation is not as simple as you think. You have two children - one who is a minor and one, although an adult, is still quite young. In addition, you have life insurance which does not automatically pass through a Will or Trust. Also, you have done quite well as you have a house which is paid in full. Your efforts should be honored by working with an attorney who can insure that your estate is distributed in a prudent manner to your children and can guide you in selecting proper fiduciaries for your estate planning documents. On the one hand, people should not overpay for legal services. On the other hand, I have seen too many problems that result from online programs. Treat yourself the way you deserve.

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  • I HAD POA OF EVERYTHING. CHILDREN ADULTS GAVE IT TO ME. AM I RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS BILLS OR ARE HIS KIDS /

    I WAS HIS CAREGIVER AND HE WAS A VET I NEVER WAS PAID ANYTHING AM I ENTITLED TO ANYTHING THROUGH THE VA

    Thomas’s Answer

    An agent under a power of attorney is not personally responsible for the bills of his principal. However, he can be held liable if he is grossly negligent or fraudulent. If you stole money or failed to pay his bills with money he had, you could be liable. However, assuming you acted in good faith, there is no liability. When he died, his power of attorney died with him. His estate is now resposible for any bills he has. As to payment, you could have received payment if you had a written caregiver agreement during his lifetime. Absent that, you are only entitled to the proverbial pat on the back. I don't believe the VA has any means to compensate you.

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  • My mother died last and has two big properties. In her will, she didn't leave the properties to anybody.

    There are two home equity loans, and one commercial loan. grand total of $250,000.00. I have my own house. Can I use my house to consolidate all the loans, and take ownership of both properties?

    Thomas’s Answer

    If the property is not left to a particular individual, it becomes part of the residuary estate. If you are the sole residuary beneficiary, you may take ownership of the house in any event. If you are one of two or more beneficiaries, you may purchase the homes for their fair market value. This can be done typically by using the values of a licensed appraiser or prices which are agreed upon by the mutual consent of all the beneficiaries. Adjustments to the prices can be made for the values of the loans as well as your pro rata equity share in the estate. If you get a competent estate attorney to assist you, you should be able to purchase the properties with some appropriate discount but in a manner which is fair to the other beneficiaries.

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  • Special Civil or Chancery - Estate and Real Estate Matter

    I am the executor of my son's will. He and his friend bought a house together, fixed it up and rented it out. Since my son's passing the friend has refused to turn over any records and not paid the estate any of the rent he has been collecting....

    Thomas’s Answer

    First, please accept my condolences over the loss of your son. Second, as to your question, it is matter which belongs in General Equity which is part of the Chancery Division. Special Civil Part provides monetary relief only. Probate Part does not apply either. Probate would be a matter involving the propriety of your son's Will or your administration of his estate. What you are looking for is a form of equitable relief. Frankly, the best route to take would be to file an action seeking a partition of the property and demanding an accounting. Good luck.

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  • Are there any protections in place for a child who inherits money, so that their spouse can't access or make any claim on it?

    There are protective inheritance laws in CT where the will was drawn, so does NJ have any similar laws? The child who lives in NJ has been married for at least 10 years.

    Thomas’s Answer

    Protections do exist for inherited money. First, an inheritance is considered exempt from property distribution. However, income generated from same can be utilized in calculations for alimony and child support. Moreover, if the inheritance is commingled with joint assets, the protection is lost. More often than not, I find individuals opting to utilize a trust known as a bloodline trust which allows the assets to be available for children but exempt from divorcing spouses and creditors. If properly drafted and implemented, children can have authority over these assets with these protections.

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  • Can a POA of an elderly woman legally prevent her freinds from visiting her? In my case she has told the front desk to prevent

    my visitation

    Thomas’s Answer

    The agent under a power of attorney may only do so if the principal is mentally incapacitated and the agent, with good cause, bans the visitors. If there is no reason for visitors being banned, an action can be raised to have the agent removed and a guardian appointed. If the principal is mentally competent, her direction would prevail and the agent would have no authority.

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  • Can we contest a will that might have been changed by a brother who has Power of Attorney?

    Mother lives with brother. She is in fair health but still has mental resources. Can we contest the will if we have been removed from it in regards to inheritance?

    Thomas’s Answer

    A Will can only be contested during lifetime on the grounds that your mother was mentally incapacitated. Since you indicate otherwise, you can do so upon death if you have evidence of undue influence, duress, fraud, or other related grounds. Your brother cannot change the Will with a power of attorney though. In NJ, only a testator may execute his or her own Will.

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