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Michael S. Haber
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Michael Haber’s Answers

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  • How can I get a death certificate as a creditor?

    My client died without any relatives who are willing to act as his administrator. I am his creditor and I want to get a death certificate of his. What documents should I prepare (what should I do)? Thank you!

    Michael’s Answer

    Mr. Fiorella gives you good advice. I would add only one point: Make sure that you thoroughly document the facts of your claim because it has gotten quite difficult over the last few years to obtain death certificates in New York City. They used to be readily available, but because of the advent of identity theft, there are often hurdles to overcome. The best way to overcome those hurdles is to be prepared from the outset, showing as much documentation as you can. It's best to do it right the first time than to make repeated efforts after the papers are kicked back to you.

    Good luck to you.

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  • I want to sale my interest in a house my brother and I inherited from our parents. Brother and I cannot agree on price

    Brother claims he has spent money on the house and wants reimbursed but has no receipts. I am willing to sale the house but believe whatever house sales for should be divided 50/50

    Michael’s Answer

    It's not clear whether you want to sell your interest in the house to your brother or whether you are pushing for a sale of the house. Either way, you and your brother are going to have to find a way to resolve the issue, because there's no palatable alternative.

    Good luck to you.

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  • Is an executor/trustee: 1) legally obligated to follow whatever advice the lawyer for an estate which is not yet settled gives

    him about administration of a pour-over trust, or is he entitled to hire other lawyers for trust administration matters even before he has poured the beneficiaries' share into it? 2) entitled to pay lawyers at the expense of the beneficiaries' sh...

    Michael’s Answer

    Mr. Grant and Mr. Brandt give you good advice. A good general rule of thumb is that an attorney is almost always giving objective advice, so that when a client who is acting as a fiduciary disregards that advice, it is important that the client be able to provide an articulate reason for his or her decision.

    Good luck to you.

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  • Did I commit an illegal act?

    I was a care taker for an elderly woman who gave me money on numerous occasions.She would tell me this is because I like you. My son birthday she gave me 400 dollars and told me to give him a nice party .I would tell her no sometimes and she would...

    Michael’s Answer

    My colleagues all give you good advice. I just want to add a point or two. First, you don't specify the total sum of money you received from the woman. If it was very significant, you may possibly be justified in having some concerns; if it was a few thousand dollars, it's probably nothing to worry about. Of course, you should be aware (and likely are aware) that being a caretaker for an elderly person puts you in a very special and very sensitive position. So you have to be careful.

    Beyond that, I'm not even clear as to whether this woman is alive or not. You use the past tense, suggesting that you are no longer working for her, and you mention "her beneficiary," suggesting that she may have passed away. But you also refer to "the money she's giving me," suggesting that she may be alive.

    The term "elder abuse" is overused. In that sense, it's like "harassment" -- a term used all the time but which seems to have a meaning that shifts depending upon who is using it. Taking a modest gift from an elderly person for whom you work and who is in all respects competent is not elder abuse. Taking significant gifts from a person suffering from dementia may be a problem.

    I would suggest you consult with an attorney. But, don't start worrying. It's extremely likely that there will be no lawsuit. Lawsuits cost money. It may not be worth it for anyone to sue. But, again, it really depends upon how much money is involved.

    Good luck to you.

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  • What do my sisters and I need to do about property stolen from us as kids when our father died without a will?

    When my father died in 2007 his parents ransacked his apartment and took anything of worth, my mother, who was recently divorced from my father didn't know what to do and the only mail she received from my dads family were items that they couldn't...

    Michael’s Answer

    Since you don't have money to hire an attorney, your best bet is to try to convince an attorney that he or she should accept the case either on a contingency fee basis or on a deferred- fee basis. You'll have to show the attorney that your case is strong and that there are assets to satisfy an ultimate judgment. It will help a lot if you have various documents at the ready when you meet with an attorney. Avoid using guesswork., avoid assumptions, and avoid uncertainty, i.e., "dad's cousin's husband is a lawyer of some sort and we believe he helped. " A fishing expedition is not likely to attract an attorney's interest. Present your case to the attorney in an orderly and well-organized fashion. Bring with you a list of assets and everyone's names, addresses, and phone numbers, appropriate death certificates, and the like.

    Good luck to you.

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  • Husband hires divorce attorney. Husband commits suicide. Wife hires divorce attorney as probate attorney. Conflict of interest?

    Seems the divorce attorney would know all details of husbands estate and should therefore disqual himself from being hired as the wife's (divorce never finalized) probate attorney.

    Michael’s Answer

    I don't see the problem. I don't see the conflict. And I'm not sure what standing you have in this situation. If understand your posting correctly, the husband hired an attorney in order to seek a divorce, but died while still married. His wife then hired the same attorney to handle the estate. In that kind of situation, the attorney's knowledge of estate assets would probably be a benefit, not a hindrance. A conflict of interest is where an attorney's allegiance to his or her client might be compromised; in this situation, I don't see how that is so.

    Good luck to you.

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  • In a Probate Action, my attorney altered the Objection filed after I reviewed it and signed it. Does that negate what was added?

    I don't like what was added as it simply is not true. I would never have signed the Objection under penalty of perjury if I had read the added statement before the attorney filed It. Can that paragraph simply be stricken, or a Supplemental Objecti...

    Michael’s Answer

    You can't communicate with the judge ex parte and even if you could, you are represented by counsel so the court won't receive communications from you. And even if it would, it's generally bad form to complain to the court about your attorney. You would probably do well to speak with your attorney.

    Good luck to you.

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  • Administrator before being approved in court removes and sells a collection from the estate, can this be considered criminal?

    or is this a civil matter.They did show the sale on a preliminary accounting but way below the value of the collection (I know this as fact)

    Michael’s Answer

    As Mr. Zelinger correctly advises you, the dispute as to the value of the items is a civil matter. The only way that I can imagine it would be criminal would be if the personal representative of the estate actually sold it for more but prepared a fraudulent bill of sale. That, however, would not appear to be what actually happened.

    Good luck to you.

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  • Please tell me the type of lawyer I need to help me to become executive of my mother's estate. I need a letter also.

    My mom passed away and I now need to take charge of her finances. In order to do so I was told that I would need a lawyer to write a letter explaining the situation and then get it notarized. There are some other steps, but I will need to discuss...

    Michael’s Answer

    If the estate was valued at $30,000 or less, then it would qualify for a small estate proceeding (also known as voluntary administration). If, however, the assets of the estate are greater in value, then a full probate or administration proceeding would be necessary.

    You should take a look at the assets that comprise your mom's estate. In doing so, exclude those assets that were held jointly and those for which there is a designated beneficiary. If those assets are no greater than $30,000, then you can handle the matter yourself. It's quick and easy. If the assets have a date of death value of greater than $30,000, then you should retain an attorney here in New York.

    Good luck to you.

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  • What's the cost for a lawyer filing probate and a 706 federal and state?

    Estate is between 7-9M and estate needs to go through probate and filing.

    Michael’s Answer

    Except for the simplest and most basic of legal services, it's difficult if not impossible to determine an exact cost of such services. That's because there are dozens of factors that will determine what precisely needs to be done, how it is to be done, and when it is to be done. A federal estate tax return for an estate that is valued at as much as $9 million can, by itself, be a complicated undertaking. By focusing solely on cost, it's possible that one can't see the forest for the trees.

    As but a simple example, due to the size of the estate there may well be federal estate tax to be paid. A knowledgeable attorney who is ready to devote a good amount of time on the matter may be able to save the estate hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes. I fully imagine that such an attorney's efforts will take more time than one who does not explore all possible areas of deductions, credits, and exemptions. Thus, an attorney who does everything as nearly perfectly as possible can save the estate quite a bit of money, but will probably charge more than one who does not look under every rock for ways in which to reduce estate tax.

    Beyond that, legal services are not one-size-fits-all. As an example, if I offer to sell you the car parked in my driveway for $20,000, you are likely going to want to know a few details about the car. If it's a brand-new Aston Martin, you've scored the deal of a lifetime. If it's a beat-up old 1967 Volkswagen van, well, you may have overpaid a bit. Details are what separate a good deal from a bad deal. Similarly, details about the estate, its beneficiaries, and its assets will go a long way in permitting an attorney to have enough information to give you a ballpark figure as to costs.

    Good luck to you.

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