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Pierson W. Backes
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Pierson Backes’s Answers

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  • When is the executor supposed to get paid:in the beginning ,during the time the estate has not been fully settled,or at the end?

    the executor in 6 years has not provided how much he is being paid, but says he took out money in the beginning and put it in a account and draws from that every year....differing amounts. Half of the assets were distributed in the beginning, but...

    Pierson’s Answer

    The timing of the draw of commission isn't in itself a significant issue, but everything in your question gives cause for concern. You should strongly consider demanding what is called an accounting from the executor; this will show the funds received and how they have been handled. If the executor will not give an account voluntarily, or if the account leaves doubt as to the propriety of their actions, you can apply to the court for relief. Given the time that has passed, the fact that a major assets has not been sold, and the way commissions have been handled, there is abundant reason to be concerned that the executor is treating the estate like his person asset. Best of luck.

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  • How do I become a representative for my mom who is deceased.

    I just received a check for her From GMAC Mortgage, LLC for a foreclosure on a home that she had. She had no banking account. The company that issued this told me to contact my bank which I did and they told me that I could have a copy of her deat...

    Pierson’s Answer

    My colleague is quite right, you will probably need to qualify as personal representative (administrator) of your mother's estate. If the amount of the check is small and your mother left no Will you may be able to proceed without a full administration, under a special procedure in New Jersey. If the check is larger, it's likely worth your while to open an administration. You can do this yourself, your local surrogate's office will help you, but if the check is more than, say, $10,000, I would recommend that you strongly consider hiring an attorney to help you. Best of luck.

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  • Brother and sister inherited their house a few months ago and cant agree on terms.

    Sister has been in the house for several years and was caregiver for Mother and Father during that time. Mother passed three years ago and Father passed 5 months ago. Sister and two children lived at the house this entire time and want to stay. Si...

    Pierson’s Answer

    These cases can be pretty expensive, with experts on both sides and potentially protracted litigation, and as with most disputes it's in everyone's interest to settle sooner rather than later. As a general scheme, the Estate is entitled to rent for the period after the death of the second parent -- courts will generally allow some reasonable time for the sale of the house before assessing rent, but 3 years is longer than courts typically permit. There is an off-set against the rent for all of the benefits conferred by the sister, such as paying bills and maintaining the property. If the sister in fact buys the property, the argument against the assessment of rent gets more complicated, because it puts the brother in the same position he would have been in if the sister had bought the house immediately after the death of her mother. As I say, tricky cases of valuation, but I hope I've laid out generally how the law views occupancy of estate property by an heir. Best of luck.

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  • MOTHERS ATTORNEY/EXECUTOR ACCUSING US OF EMBEZZLEMENT!!!

    Tried to get an inheritance advance on moms estate . Executor not returning any calls or letters. Advance company left me a message stating executor who is also an attorney said my husband and i embezzled funds and we are not getting a dime unless...

    Pierson’s Answer

    Under certain circumstances, your attorneys' fees as an heir may be paid by the Estate, so it is worthwhile to consult a probate litigator even if you don't have the ability to pay a legal fee yourself. The situation you're describing may be more difficult. If the executor decides to sue you and your husband to recover money she believes was embezzled, your defense would not, generally, be chargable to the Estate. It's confusing even for attorneys and you should certainly consult with a lawyer if you are being denied your inheritance or if the executor sues you. Best of luck.

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  • I was a beneficiary on a will 3 months ago. I think it has been changed in the last month. She died. I need a lawyer I think.

    The beneficiary called me informing me my vet friend was leaving me everything. Yesterday she said the money was being left to her caretaker of 7 months. Strange I thought. I think my friend was under the influence of Resperadal. The drug J@J just...

    Pierson’s Answer

    It is very difficult to gauge how far your case may be worth pursuing without gathering additional facts, some of which may not be known to you. I would recommend that you make at least some inquiry, with the assistance of a lawyer, before abandoning the matter.

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  • My 12 yr. old childs paternal grandfather died recently. How can I find out what he left her in his will?

    She resides with me but her Dad has legal custody. Do I have a right to know what the will states? What if something happened to him? How would I ever know what grandfather left to her? The only thing he told me was that "She was going to be rich ...

    Pierson’s Answer

    I'm not going to address the issues relating to your daughter's age and parenting rights, but limit my answer to the question about probate generally. If there was a Will and the estate is properly administered, your daughter will receive notice from the executor called "Notice of Probate." At that time, she would be entitled to a copy of the Will. If you're concerned that your daughter's father may hide the Will or otherwise act improperly, you will probably need to hire a lawyer.

    Best of luck.

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  • Can i contest the amount of money the administrators are charging? The estate is worth 1,540,000.

    They are charging the estate 93,000.

    Pierson’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Yes, you should certainly consider contesting a commission of that amount. I'm assuming you're a beneficiary, so that an increase in the estate value would benefit you. The commission due depends on a few factors, but the number you're reporting is nearly twice the ordinary commission, and you have the right to know why. You should also know that you may not be stuck with your own attorney's fees for contesting the commission. In many instances, and particularly if you are successful in adding money to the estate by reducing the commission, your fees will be reimbursed to you from estate funds.

    Really, this is an instance where you're best off seeking an attorney. The procedure is a bit intricate and the money at stake is not small.

    Best of luck.

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  • Can I contest a will in which my father left everything to the second wife and two kids, and nothing to the two older kids?

    In a will drafted in 2006 he split ownership of a building he owned in NYC between the four children. In 2011 he changed it to read the two younger children get the building. In 2/2013 after being diagnosed with Stage IV cancer and on strong narco...

    Pierson’s Answer

    Yes, inquiry into the circumstances of the making of your father's Will seems appropriate under the circumstances you've described. There are tight time restrictions for challenging a Will on the basis of the mental state of the maker, so I encourage you not to delay.

    Best of luck, and sorry for your loss.

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  • My sister passed away, I have power of attorney, she was due to receive a law suit payment. I was told I need to raise an estate

    Is this correct? Where and how would I obtain this document?

    Pierson’s Answer

    You will need to probate her Will (or otherwise open her estate, if she did not have a Will). If the lawsuit is not fully resolved, you will need additional filings with the Surrogate.

    I'm reluctant to say that you absolutely need an attorney, but this kind of matter can be complex and I urge you to consult with a lawyer before doing anything.

    Best of luck, and sorry for your loss.

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  • How do I sell the house left in my father's trust?

    This is probably a simple question: My father passed away in June, leaving his house to me, my sister and my aunt. (I am executor.) The house is fully paid for, and worth about $800K. What do I need to do to list and sell the house?

    Pierson’s Answer

    Not necessarily such a simple question. My first question is whether the house is "in trust" or simply part of your father's estate. You should also be aware of New Jersey's estate tax, which requires that a tax return be filed on any estate with a value over $675,000.00.

    Best of luck, and sorry for your loss.

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