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Richard S Sternberg
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Richard Sternberg’s Answers

115 total


  • How do I open a case that was closed for large real estate in probate. PR named in will died and the replacement PR died.

    My uncle was PR and filed will court. He filed for abbreviated unsupervised administration and will waived bond. He was appointed by court as Administration of the estate. There was a motion to vacate summary hearing for removal of PR. This wa...

    Richard’s Answer

    The obvious answer is that you need an attorney experienced in DC probate work. This is our bread 'n' butter lately. The Will was surely filed long ago by your predecessor. As long as you have priority to serve as personal representative or can explain why everyone above you in priority consents or cannot object to your service, you need do no more than file a Petition to Reopen Estate. The deceased named PRs will not be a problem, and a simple affidavit will suffice. You'll get your Letters in a few weeks, and can move on quickly thereafter, If your objective is to sell the house, we can guide you in listing it, and, if you can't afford the legal fees, we can often find an investor in DC who will contract to buy the house and guarantee probate fees. If you can afford the fees -- and they shouldn't be too expensive if everyone is available and cooperates -- we can refer you to Realtors who specialize in this sort of transaction. If there are tenants or squatters, that will present a who other can or worms, but we can help with that, too.

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  • My landlord and I just signed a lease for a room rental in DC on 9/2. Can the landlord come back the next day and rescind the l

    I just moved in to the room on the evening of August 29, 2014. The lease was presented to me for my review and possible questions. Corrections were made and both the landlord and I signed the lease on 9/2/2014. The lawyer wants to now rescind t...

    Richard’s Answer

    I agree with both of my colleagues. A contract is a contract. To evict you, your landlord needs to file a Complaint for Possession and provide a basis for terminating the lease. Non-payment of rent might be one of them, but, if you are paying (or can prove you are tendering payment), your landlord has no basis to interfere with your quiet enjoyment of the property. At the end of the lease, and in some unusual circumstances before then, the landlord may be able to terminate early, but he is required to provide specific notice of 30 or 90 days (depending on the basis).

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  • My husband died and we held the house in joint tenancy with rights of survivalship. Do I have to change the deed to my name ONLY

    no more details necessary

    Richard’s Answer

    I join my colleagues in expressing condolences and in their advice. If the deed was JTWROS, the property passed to you on death. It might speed your sale in the future to keep an original death certificate around, and I believe it costs very little if you decide to record a corrected deed.

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  • Earnest money deposit check bounced

    Buyer's earnest money deposit $10,000 check bounced after termination of contract? Should I file a police report for theft or is this solely a criminal matter?

    Richard’s Answer

    I'd be really interested if you can persuade the police or the AUSA to treat that as a criminal fraud charge. I think you'll need to proceed with counsel as a bounced check or breach of contract case.

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  • Who is the best real estate attorney licensed in Washington DC?

    Need referral

    Richard’s Answer

    I don't know how to answer your question. There are many lawyers practicing many aspects of real estate law, and some are better and some are worse. You might try checking what other lawyers say about them, or check if your choices are AV rated by Martindale-Hubbel, or, even, check a public ratings system like Avvo.com to see what clients say about their lawyers.

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  • How do I avoid my home going through probate?

    I am a DC resident. If I state in my Will, that I want to leave my home to my children when I die, do i need to do a Trust of some sort? If there is a Will, do my kids have to fill out some paperwork or something? What has to be done?

    Richard’s Answer

    I see you've received a number of responses, but none of them come from lawyers admitted to practice in DC. In DC, as in many other jurisdictions, you can convey real property by Will, by Deed, or by Trust. Handwritten Wills no longer receive special lenient treatment, so you really need professional help in forming either the Will or the Trust. The trust can be used to avoid probate, but it can also limit your title to the property during your life, especially if crafted incorrectly. There are "poor-man Will" tricks you can use by drafting a Deed, but that, too, should be done with professional help.

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  • Can my old roommates or apartment complex sue me for damages after I exited the lease?

    I invited two of my friends to move in with me and we started having issues before they moved in. I decided instead of continuing to argue I would make it easy and move out. They found a new tenant to replace me and we signed a "roommate release a...

    Richard’s Answer

    Your description makes no sense to me, but I'd need to read the Lease and the Release as well as any correspondence to be able to advise you. Find a lawyer and retain them to review the release.

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  • If I type my Last Will & Testament & assign ownership to dift people of my earthly possessions, sign & date is it legal document

    I am not officially married, but have been living w/ my domestic partner for 2 yrs, so am common-law married. I want to have something in place should something happen to me, and need to know what I need to do to ensure my typewritten Last Will & ...

    Richard’s Answer

    > I am not officially married, but have been living w/ my domestic partner for 2 yrs, so am common-law > married.

    No, you are not.

    > what I need to do to ensure my typewritten Last Will & Testament is legal/binding.

    Hold it firmly in both hands. Move your left hand forward sharply while you move your right hand sharply backwards. Repeat several times. Seek out a lawyer, or, at least, do an on-line search for a legally binding Will along with careful instructions on how to execute it and then store it in order to become effective when it is needed.

    Otherwise, do as you are doing. Staple my card to the mess with the note: "Not written by this guy, but he says he might be able to straighten out this mess after I die."

    I'll make much more money the second way. ;-)

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  • My husband's father passed without a will. He had a house and car. Is probate the solution and how long does it take?

    Is an attorney required to handle and what are the avg atty fees? The wife has passed and my husband is the only child. How do we handle his bills?

    Richard’s Answer

    It doesn't really matter that he didn't have a Will, except that the estate will pass by intestacy instead of by Will. Either way, a probate will be required to transfer title. Once probate is opened, the car will be easy, though there is a shortcut available if that's all that's involved. If all the heirs waive bond, the priority heir is available to serve as PR or all the others sign renunciations of their priority, and there are no claims, this can be completed when the claims period expires in an abbreviated probate. How many times you redo it and how many bends there are in the road depends on you and your attorney's skill as well as some uncontrolled facts, like the participation of the other heirs. If the house is to be sold during the probate, especially in this growing market in DC, that can fund the probate expenses.

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  • What is my options.

    I have been living with my aunt for 10 years and she has pass away the house has no mortgage, she had no children, husband is decease. I have been paying the taxes, now my family is trying to remove me. I just want to know do I have any rights.

    Richard’s Answer

    My learned colleagues are quite correct. The ultimate answer will be determined by your family tree, the existence of a Will, and who the correct beneficiaries are. That you paid the taxes is relevant to whether you are entitled to be reimbursed for your contributions, but, contrary to popular DC myth, it is not probative of your title to the property. You need a DC lawyer, and you need the services of that lawyer before taxes go unpaid or the house begins to decline. If you are an heir with priority to serve as personal representative, the estate might pay for your legal services. If not, there are hints and tricks that may help. You need to see a DC probate and property lawyer before the family problem becomes intractable.

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