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Thomas Devlin Begley

Thomas Begley’s Answers

287 total


  • IS there any law regarding fees for attorneys acting as executors and also attorney for the estate? Does profession impact fees?

    If a person is an attorney by profession and named executor of an estate, does being an attorney have any impact on the fees charged as executor if the duties do not require the skills of an attorney? In other words can someone charge a higher ex...

    Thomas’s Answer

    It is permissible for an attorney to act as both the executor and the attorney for the estate. However, there are guidelines that need to be followed in doing so. First, executor's time cannot be billed at attorney's rates. In many jurisdictions, probate courts insist that the attorney keep two separate logs of time to distinguish between the two areas. Second, if one is practicing outside his or her area of expertise, he or she should not be billing for their learning curve nor should there be any billing for correction of errors. In addition, I am concerned about the attorney being a beneficiary of the estate. If he or she prepared the Will, he or she could have an ethics issue - unless the decedent was an immediate or very close family member.

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  • MY MOM NEEDS POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR MY STEPFATHER HOW CAN SHE GO ABOUT GETTING IT

    HE HAD A STROKE ALMOST A YEAR AGO AND CANT REALLY SPEAK HE CN ANSWER YES OR NO QUESTIONS. WE REALLY DONT KNOW WAT ELSE TO DO

    Thomas’s Answer

    There are two issues which need to be resolved. First, in order to execute a power of attorney, your father must have the mental capacity to do so. That is, he must understand what he is signing. Second, if he has had a stroke, you should seek proper counsel. There are certainly a lot of forms on the internet and office supply stores. Although some may be adequate for basic functions such as paying bills, they often do not allow for proper management of assets and personal care. In your mother's case, she may need prudent advice to protect the assets of her and her father from long term care costs which can be met be alternative sources such as VA benefits and Medicaid. In short, the value of a power of attorney is greatly enhanced when prepared by proper counsel who can assist with the big picture issues facing the family. Good luck.

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  • I recd over 20K from a relative which is net (inheritance tax paid)....Can I give it to a sibling without them paying NJ taxes?

    Money was left to me from my aunt and I would like to put it into my son's name but, will he have to pay NJ taxes on this?

    Thomas’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    You are free to gift this money over to your sibling. It can be done in one of two ways. First, you can give annual exclusion gifts which are gifts up to an aggregate of $14,000 per person per year. In that scenario, you would spread your gifts out over two years. Second, you can give all of it now. $14,000 would be covered by the annual exclusion amount. The balance of $6,000 can be covered by reducing same from your lifetime exclusion for gifting which is currently $5,340,000.

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  • Beneficiary of trust died intestate - do heirs become successor trustees? do trust assets become part of decedent's estate?

    trust =(my grandfather) TTEE FBO (my mother) DTD 11-11-61 grandfather died 1968, mother died intestate 2009 in order to liquidate the assets (shares of a single mutual fund), do I act as a successor trustee or as the administrator of my mo...

    Thomas’s Answer

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    In order to provide a proper answer, more information needs to be provided. However, it appears from your question that a trust document was established in 1961. If that is the case, the terms of the trust control unless the money was to be paid out to your mother while she was still alive. In that latter case, the assets would vest in your mother and be part of her estate at which point a personal representative of her estate would need to be appointed to handle same. If the property, however, was to be held in trust throughout your mother's lifetime, then the trust should: (a) note who the remainder beneficiaries are and (b) appoint a successor trustee. If either of those issues are not addressed in the trust document, you will need to petition the local probate court. For the issue of who is the remaining beneficiary, the application is for instruction or directions. For the issue of trustee, it is an application for a successor trustee. Good luck.

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  • My father died 18 months ago in Broward County Fla. He left a bank handling his trust. .

    The bank has never notified me of his passing. I have a brother who's wife has told me they have been left everything. Is that possible? Does the bank have to notify me? My father was not married at the time of his passing and we are the only 2 ch...

    Thomas’s Answer

    The bank likely does not have an obligation to contact you as a trust is typically exempt from probate laws included those that mandate notice. There is no right to an equal distribution between two children. However, if you feel the trust is a product of wrongdoing, you can consult an attorney to see if it can be set aside.

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  • How much can 2 administrators charge, and also the attorney for handling an estate? Are we getting screwed

    The attorney charged 50,000. and the 2 executors charged 93,300 together on an estate worth 1,540,000. state of nj according to them audited the estate and took 233,000. I have a informal accounting from the executors. I spoke to the lawyer ha...

    Thomas’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Using your words, it appears you are "getting screwed". The commission of executors is fixed by statute. It is 5% of the first $200,000, 3 1/2% of the next $800,000 and 2% of the balance although an additional 1% can be added in for the additional executor. Obviously, this creates an over charge in excess of $30,000. Although there is a 6% commission on income, it is safe to assume that the estate did not generate $500,000 in income. Based on the size of the estate, the counsel fee appears to be excessive as well. Although the estate requires the filing of an estate tax return (mandated in NJ when an estate exceeds $675,000), the cost to handle the estate and prepare the return is typically a mere fraction of that amount. There are times when a higher fee is justified but that would be when there are extraordinary circumstances such as peculiar assets to administer or probate litigation. I would recommend contacting competent counsel to assist you.

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  • Are co-executors of an estate entitled to an accounting of bills paid from an attorney trust account?

    siblings are co-executors of parent's estate. One took most of Estate Account monies and put it into his attorney trust account without other's knowledge. Sister asked arbitrator to return her half to the bank account, arbitrator said money was fi...

    Thomas’s Answer

    A co-executor is not only entitled but is obligated to obtain an accounting fro a co-executor as to his or her actions. The format is established by law. Same can be obtained by filing an application before the probate court. Typically, one must wait one year until after the appointment of an executor to compel an accounting. However, this would not apply as one executor has an affirmative obligation to keep the other one informed and not to take unilateral action without consent. In this case, as the co-executor is an attorney, ethics charges can be filed against him or her for this issue.

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  • A vacation home was owned by partnership between two couples- the males are deceased and house is owned jointly by the wives- my

    My question who owns the house if one of the wives dies and can they "will" it to a family member

    Thomas’s Answer

    The answer to both parts of your question lies with the terms of the deed itself. Title is typically held in one of three manners: (a) a tenancy in common, (b) joint tenancy with a right of survivor and (c) tenancy by the entirety. Your question assumes that a tenancy by the entirety existed between the respected parties to each marriage which allowed each husband's interest to pass to his wife by operation of law. Now, for the two surviving wives, if the property is held jointly with rights to the survivor, then when one of the wives dies, the property will pass to the other and same cannot be changed by a Will. If it is owned as a tenancy in common, each wife's interest will pass through her probate estate. If there i s no Will, it will pass to the next of kin. If there is a Will, it will pass per its terms. In this case, the Will can leave the interest to a family member. Good luck.

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  • What is the best way to transfer a deed to my mom's house from her name to me and my 2 brothers' name?

    My mother is 91, alert and aware. She wants to give her house to me and my two brothers before she dies. Will this affect her medicare/medicade/SS benefits? Will we be pounded with tax if transfer the deed now? What's the best way to do this (in t...

    Thomas’s Answer

    In order to make the best decision, you need to evaluate personal and financial factors. For example, I typically advocate the use of a trust in the event either you or your mother were to predecease your brothers or if any of you had credit problems or judgements. As to finances, the question has to balance whether there are sufficient assets which exist to pay your mother's care in the event she needs long term care in the next five years. On the other hand, if she has substantial assets, there may be issues with state estate taxes. In all, it may likely be a good idea to get the property out of your mother's name. However, you need to insure you have a competent attorney provide sound guidance as the best option.

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  • If I renounce on my mothers will as executor my sister named second in will . We are not on speaking terms and my father both bo

    As beneficiaries , can she cash his iras and life insurance and not give it to me or use it for herself ? I am unable to perform the task while she is flexible with time . She took all his valuables out of house and her real estate friend helping ...

    Thomas’s Answer

    An executor can only control assets which pass through the Will. Typically, assets such as life insurance and IRAs do not as they are distributed outright to named beneficiaries. If that is the case, she cannot interfere with them. As to being executor, I certainly would not recommend renouncing in favor of someone you do not trust. You can delegate your responsibilities to others and can hire an attorney to make your duties easier to handle. Good luck.

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