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Richard S Sternberg
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Richard Sternberg’s Answers

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  • Hi, I have a question. I live in USA and few years earlier I and my brothers bought a house together. We were all contributed th

    Hi, I have a question. I live in USA and few years earlier I and my brothers bought a house together. We were all contributed the same amount every month to pay the mortgage and other stuff for the house. I got married and moved out of this house ...

    Richard’s Answer

    Mr. Havens is correct: You need to consult with a lawyer, and there could be significant money at stake, so it is worth it. The question you ask is quite fact-specific. You need a good interview, and you don't need an open exchange of responses on a web site that you may have read to you during a trial on this matter. Reach in your pocket and buy a consult with a lawyer.

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  • Can the deceased person's SS# be used to open an estate account?

    The deceased has no debt or outstanding bills. There was no will and a daughter has received checks payable to the deceased and one payable to the estate. Letter of Administration has been applied for with Probate Court. The amount is under $100...

    Richard’s Answer

    You should open a small estate, assuming the total value is less than $40,000 (for a recent demise). Upon getting Letters, open an estate account with the estate's tax ID.

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  • Need an explanation for Case Disposition Summary fields (Ohio).

    What do "Disposition: Hearing by judge" and "Termination: Hearing by judge" mean? This was Columbia County, Ohio, 1999.

    Richard’s Answer

    Literally, it means that whatever it's referencing was disposed, resolved, terminated, completed, and/or done after a hearing by a judge. Without a context, it tells me nothing useful, and my answer might mislead you if there is a special context, like termination of a probation or a statutory expungement. Call the clerk of that county or call an Ohio lawyer and describe the type of case. Context matters.

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  • How do I claim my inheritance?

    My granddad died around the end of December. My aunt (granddad's sister) recently petitioned to be the personal representative of his estate. She stated that my granddad did not have a Will and that my father was his beneficiary. My father died la...

    Richard’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    It is not clear to me that your great aunt has standing to serve as PR. I have to make some assumptions in reading your posting, but DC law gives priority in intestate estates to the heirs at law. You grandfather's wife, if she survived, your father's siblings, and then your siblings should serve. The duties are minimal when you are represented by counsel, and you will avoid personal representative compensation as well as all sorts of unusual problems that sometime crop up when non-heirs get appointed as PR. If you are over 18 and there is enough in the estate to pay for counsel, you should take responsibility for your own inheritance. This is even more critical if you don't know the other side of the family well and you aren't sure that they are doing it for love. If you aren't 18 or the estate is too small for a lawyer to help, you can ask the court to appoint volunteers from the court's panel. If the estate is impoverished, those panel lawyers will help you and will be paid by the court.

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  • My sister and I are going to sell a house given to us by our mother when she passed.

    We live in DC and the house is in North Carolina. Does my wife have to sign the settlement papers when we sell it?

    Richard’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    As my colleague says, the applicable law is from the jurisdiction where the property is situated. So, North Carolina law controls, and North Carolina is particularly strict about who can conduct a North Carolina settlement. But, regardless of where you are, a settlement agent can prepare a package for you and your wife, if needed, to review and sign before a notary public anywhere. Settlements can usually occur by overnight courier anywhere, including foreign countries. Ask your North Carolina settlement agent, whom, I believe, must be supervised by a lawyer.

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  • My fiancée currently holds a mortgage of 350K on a house appraised @ 750,000. The home was originally purchase by his mother,

    two brothers and himself back in '78 with each party placing an equal share of the down payment of the closings cost which was 3,000. The mother paid the mortgage until her death in '93. Since then my fiancée has been paying the mortgage alone; ...

    Richard’s Answer

    I agree with my learned colleague that this one could be a mess. It sounds like a perfect example of the old adage, "Pay me now, or pay me (much more) later." With a simple contract, the matter might have been resolved in 1993, but this sounds like a partition action wrapped in a pre--'95 DC supervised probate. The best news is that, with skillful representation, you might get this resolved in the probate division much cheaper and faster than it would be resolved in civil division. But, you need a lawyer, and you need that lawyer now. And, while I realize you don't want to hear this and will probably choose someone else if they tell you your fiancé can keep the property, that result is extremely unlikely. What he might get, if he plays it right and deals with reality up front, is contribution for his efforts to improve the value of the house. Ignoring this will not make it better, and ignoring the probate in '93 definitely made it worse.

    We're down there in that court just about weekly, and I'd be happy to try to help straighten this out.

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  • Is there a fee for starting the probate process 3 months after the date of death in Washington DC?

    My aunt passed away in Oct 2013. I am next of kin. She had no will and she left a couple of properties in DC. He long time boyfriend is leaving in the house, so I figured he could start the process himself... He just told me he cannot as they w...

    Richard’s Answer

    Your boyfriend will have difficulty qualifying, but the process need not be difficult. With a competent, qualified lawyer, your Petition can be prepared and filed, and all you need to do is sign. If all of the natural heirs waive bond, the costs include the advertising and the legal fees, all of which can easily be funded by selling one or both of the properties and putting a nice check in your pocket. While you might succeed in doing this yourself, and the probate process has become immensely simpler in the last 20 years, a seasoned professional will make it easy and profitable for you by preparing the paperwork, and, where needed, linking you with realtors, investors, investigators, and everyone else you need for a successful probate. This is most of our work these days, and we're down in court with multiple estates almost every week. We'll be happy to help, and, if you prefer, payment can come from the proceeds of the sales.

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  • What should happen with a business if the owner dies without a will? business and bank accounts do not have the spouses name on

    The owner has two adult children. The wife believes she gets everything. Is that true? Should the business be closed immediately?

    Richard’s Answer

    You're not giving me enough information to give you a useful answer. It matters whether the business is a corporation, LLC, partnership, or sole proprietorship. It matters whether the business and bank accounts are in the individual's name or a corporate or business name. It matters whether it is a successful business that has a continuing future or whether it is wrapping up affairs anyway (for example, because it is failing or it is a successful personal service business, like law practice). It probably doesn't matter whether the wife's name is on it or whether he had a Will. Intestate succession will answer questions that a Will doesn't. To determine intestate succession, it matters whether there are any adult or minor children involved and whether the minor children are children of the decedent. I can suggest that a brief consult to get these facts may sort you out fairly quickly.

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  • Do the condo assoc. have the right to have my vehicle towed from my assigned parking space with dead tags.

    My vehicle was not abandoned or dangerous. I was told for private property I had up to 5 days to have the vehicle removed once ticketed. They ticketed and towed the same day with out noice. When I called the association, they said they did not a...

    Richard’s Answer

    You might start by determining who towed the car. Perhaps the District doesn't think of your condo parking lot as private. That might present an interesting question. Perhaps the car was stolen. Get the facts first. Then, ask.

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  • I need a probate attorney for the state of maryland, Westminster maryland

    Please contact me asap, 571 220 5418, Lloyd Shipley

    Richard’s Answer

    My learned colleague is surely correct. Soliciting an unrepresented client by telephone in response to what amounts to an advertisement is probably unethical unless you are a general counsel soliciting bids for work. Further, posting your telephone number like that may get you far more suspicious activity than you expect. Be aware. Now that you've done that, make sure to investigate with due diligence any contacts you get on this issue. Check the Avvo.com rating as well as the Bar listings of anyone you consider.

    I practice probate law. So do others. I never drive to Westminster, but the Orphan's Courts and Register of Wills offices throughout Maryland are often quite friendly and helpful to lawyers helping out by telephone, fax, and UPS. If you make an appointment and let me know what you need, I might be able to help. If you have a hearing for some Show Cause or other failures already scheduled, I'm not your man.

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