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Joseph Jonathan Brophy

Joseph Brophy’s Answers

4,134 total


  • Am I allowed to borrow money from an inheritance that will be finished in 6 weeks??

    probate ends 18th of Nov....have a big inheritance coming....but I'm badly in need of a very small amount...my siblings and I made our brother PR, and he's shelling out money left and right.....am I allowed to get a loan before the probate is done...

    Joseph’s Answer

    Your question may be based on a misunderstanding. There are several stages to probate. The probate ends, or is closed, after all the assets have been distributed and accounted for. So if probate was closing a few weeks from now, I would have expected you to have received money already. The first stage is getting a will admitted to probate, or if no will, getting letters of administration. It's usually possible to say, the probate petition is returnable on a given date, there is no opposition, so we expect letters to issue then. Until letters issue, the personal representative may have access to non-probate assets to pay immediate bills, but has no power to make distribution of probate assets. Once letters issue, the personal representative can make distributions to beneficiaries. So, if you are waiting for letters to issue, you are going to have to wait a little longer for money from the estate. If letters have issued, just ask your brother for an advance.

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  • Could my two sisters probate a joint savings account that I have shared with my mom?

    the joint savings account had no beneficiaries.

    Joseph’s Answer

    Legally, if an account is payable on death account or with right of survivorship, it passes outside of probate and the surviving joint tenant owns it on the other tenant's death. Sometimes, though, a parent will set up a joint account with a child for convenience, regardless of what label is on the account. That is more common with a checking account than with a savings account, but some peole do designate one child to be custodian of the accounts with the intention of simplifying or avoiding probate. I assume you know what your mother's intentions were and you will carry them out. That's really the bottom line.

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  • Punitive damages ? for medical malpractice / wrongful death lawsuit in Virginia.

    It is my understanding that the cap on such lawsuits is 2,000,000. Are punitive damages above and beyond the cap or are they included in the cap amount if awarded?

    Joseph’s Answer

    In general, punitive damages are very rarely awarded in medical malpractice cases. If your question relates to a real case and not a matter of general interest, you should consult with a medical malpractice lawyer in the area where the incident occurred. Initial consultations are generally free.

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  • I would like to will my home to my daughter and granddaughter how much is exempt from inheritance tax?

    I am a widow and own my home free and clear. I live in KY. and would like my daughter and her daughter to have my home. It is valued at approximately $175,000 to $200,000. If its left to them in a will how much inheritance tax will be exempt, or ...

    Joseph’s Answer

    Inheritance tax issues are probably unimportant. More important, what happens if you have to go into a nursing home and the house is in your name? Then, it may well happen that Medicaid will take the house and there will be nothing left to leave to your family. What if you leave the house to your daughter and granddaughter- then your daughter wants to sell the house and her daughter doesn't? You should sit down with an estate planning lawyer and hash out these issues and others before you decide how to dispose of your property.

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  • Do I have a case

    My son broke his tibia and fibula a plate was used to fix it 3 weeks out of surgery that plate snapped causing both bones to re break...another surgery was needed and a bigger stronger plate used

    Joseph’s Answer

    It largely depends on how well your son's leg heals after the second surgery. If he gets a good result despite the first plate breaking, it probably would not be worth pursuing legal action. Call a medical malpractice lawyer for advice. They are generally happy to answer questions over the phone at no charge.

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  • Mom died, everything in joint with me except the house (only daughter). House was in her name & deceased grandma. Probate ??

    I'm hesitant to pay the bills or put any money into the house (needs a lot of work), because I've been told that it will have to go into probate. Can I subtract my costs from the taxes I'll have to pay? Is there any way to avoid probate? I'm st...

    Joseph’s Answer

    If your Mom owned the house in her name, there is no way to change title without probate. She has passed, so there is nobody to sign a deed until the probate court appoints a legal representative. You should invest in an hour consultation with a local probate lawyer to get some advice about your specific situation. Then you can decide whether you want to go through probate and take the house over, or just walk away from it.

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  • If I complain against my lawyer, will I need a lawyer for the complaint?

    What does a complaint involve? Is it just a written complaint, or is there testimony with cross examining etc.? Would I be expected to argue against my own lawyer? Or would I be expected to have a lawyer to do such arguing?

    Joseph’s Answer

    I can tell you how it works in NY and as far as I know other states are similar. The client initiates a complaint with a letter or fills out a form that the disciplinary committee provides. The committee may dismiss the complaint out of hand if it seems to have no substance at all. More often they send it on to the lawyer and ask for a written response. They review the response and if they are satisfied with it, they close the file. If they are not satisfied with the response they may recommend that the court discipline the lawyer based on the complaint itself and the unsatisfactory answer (sometimes the lawyer doesn't respond at all, which is a sure way to get suspended). Or they may refer the matter for a hearing, take the testimony of the client, the lawyer and possibly other witnesses before making a recommendation to the court. which has the final decision in what discipline to impose. In this process the client generally does not need a lawyer. Some situations are pretty clear- if the lawyer stole money form the client there is not much more that needs to be said except how, when, and how much. Or, it may benefit the client to hire a lawyer to help, if the client has trouble writing up a complaint that presents more complex issues clearly. It's sometimes hard to know how much information to provide., and a lawyer's advice can help the client decide how to present the complaint

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  • Can inheritance flow back to the heirs of a deceased brother if those heirs are designated by a will but are not blood related?

    A friend of the family left my grandmother and his brother interest in mineral/oil/gas leases when he died. My grandmother died and we inherited those leases. The friend's brother died with no will and no surviving family. We have been told that h...

    Joseph’s Answer

    I am assuming for the purpose of this answer that the friend left the interests to your grandmother and his brother in a will. Depending on how the will was written, the brother's share could have reverted to your grandmother if the brother were to die without issue. Then it would pass through her estate to her descendants. This is pure guesswork on my part, but the original paperwork is bound to be on file and a local probate lawyer could probably trace this all out without much difficulty and put your mind at ease.

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  • How much do attorneys charge per hour to handle a probate estate without a will?

    I'm curious as to what most attorneys charge to handle probate estates? Are clients charged per hour?

    Joseph’s Answer

    In New York probate is more commonly charged by the hour. A lot of the work is paralegal work. Rates vary according to the law firm and the locality. $200/hour would probably be on the low end for lawyers, $100/hour for paralegals. Rates could easily be double that. How much it will cost at the end of the day largely depends on the complexity of the estate. That's why courts in NY disfavor fees based on a percentage of the assets in the estate. If no MD probate lawyer weighs in on this, you can find one to call with Avvo's "find lawyer" function,

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  • Can someone bring a sworn statement into court saying something that I did not say (a lie) and can I sue for slander or perjury?

    can someone bring a sworn statement into court saying something that I did not say (a lie) and can I sue for slander or perjury?

    Joseph’s Answer

    Statements made in court are privileged. That means if somebody lies about you in court, you can't sue for defamation. Perjury is a crime, but there is no right to collect damages for perjury.

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