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George E Meng

George Meng’s Answers

202 total


  • "Contested Wills," "Contested Trusts and Estates" and "Probate Litigation" are all Fields of Practice. Who should I hire?

    Martindale list the above as different fields of practice that attorneys specialize in. 1-What's the difference between the three Fields of Practice? 2-Aren't all three fields litigation contest work? 3-If I con...

    George’s Answer

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    When a person dies, their estates may be handled under a Will through the probate process; under a trust in accordance with the death distribution provisions of the trust, or, where there are both probate and trust assets, by both methods. In the probate area, there can be litigation over a multitude of matters: Will contests, issues about who can be PR, whether all the property has been inventoried, whether the PR is doing the right thing, whether an accounting is accurate, etc. Some attorneys will handle minor litigation issues in the Orphans' Court, but would not consider a Will contest jury trial in the Circuit Court, much less an appeal to one of our appellate courts. If an attorney indicates "contested wills" I would expect that attorney to be willing and able to handle a Circuit Court jury trial. But, that's not necessarily true because Martindale allows us to pick the categories. The solution is for you to ask the lawyer. A contested trust issue goes to the Circuit Court. So, I expect that an attorney who lists that, would have no hesitation to do either a contested probate (Will) or trust matter. I think "contested wills" would in most instances be a subset of "conested trusts and estates" as would "probate litigation" I expect some attorneys would consider "contested wills" to be a subset of "probate litigation" and some would consider it wholly different. Many "litigation" attorneys handle probate and trust litigation but you'll find that very few concentrate (we MD attorneys cannot ethically us the word "specialize" except for limited practice areas) their practice in that field. There are many differences between an Orphans' Court and the Circuit Court. Simply put, the litigation that occurs in the Orphans' Courts is generally far simpler with relaxed (and sometimes) no rules of evidence. (Many MD Orphans' Court judges are lay people without legal training). Your 4th question is the most difficult because it depends upon the lawyer - some would say yes to all areas and some would say yes to fewer than all and ask which court. Once you've selected at least 3 candidates, I suggest you call each and ask them for their experience. Also keep in mind that there is far more to selecting an attorney than simply experience. The chief complaint by clients to disciplinary bodies about their attorney is lack of communication. An attorney well experienced in all of these fields who is a bad communicator would lkiely be a bad choice.

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  • Do I need a lawyer

    Recently my father passed. After my brother and I finalize his funeral arrangements we were presented with a typed will from our cousin stating his assets , insurance policy, bank accounts , money goes to her. This will is definitely not legal but...

    George’s Answer

    Some probate things can be handled by people on their own without a lawyer. This is not one of them. What you outline could be as simple as ignoring the "Will" if it was not properly signed or for some other reason. Or, you could have the beginning of a Will contest. You should promptly arrange for a consultation with a local lawyer familiar with probate matters.

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  • What steps do I need to take to get a Power of Attorney?

    My parents are elderly and their doctors are telling me to get a Power of Attorney so that someone could be able to make decisions for their well being. Do I just fill out a certain form of do I also need a lawyer?

    George’s Answer

    You could fill out a form but if you screw things up it's likely you won't find out until it's too late to make corrections. If you screw things up, you may end up having to do a court ordered guardianship. The legal fees for a guardianship case can easily be over $3000. On the other hand, the cost to have a lawyer review your parents' estate planning and do the necessary paperwork should be far less.

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  • My attorney just passed my case off to another lawyer in his firm, without my consent. My trial is tomorrow. What can I do?

    I hired my lawyer a couple months ago based on several criteria including his experience and confidence that we could win my case. When I went in to his office today for an appointment I was told would be with him, I met a young lady, who says she...

    George’s Answer

    Right now call the lawyer you hired and tell the lawyer you want him. If you can't reach him call the lawyer you met with and ask her to get you in touch with him and explain your lack of confidence to her. If all else fails, consider having the young lawyer ask for a continuance. You should also check your retainer agreement as some lawyers include a provision that services might be provided by another lawyer in the firm.

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  • What does this mean "I give ten percent of the value of my residuary estate divided into three equal shares" ?

    My great great aunt left a will that states that and my grandmother is the personal representative. We need clarity on that statement. Does it mean that each of the three people receive 1/3 of 10% or that each person receives 10% of the total. Tha...

    George’s Answer

    I believe it means 10% divided into 3 parts or 3.33% to each. A good test is to look at the total for the remainder. If my interpretation is right, I would expect the remaining total to be 90% not 70%

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  • Does Estate Agreement stating Tenant-in-Common Heirs will list Property for Sale violate all other Tenant-in-Common rights?

    My sister (the PR) & I are having my mother's Estate deeded to us as Tenant-in-Common owners in order to prevent Appointed Trustee Auction Sale which will bring nothing as far as fair market value. My sister/her attorney have the following provisi...

    George’s Answer

    It's highly unlikely that any lawyer would answer these kinds of questions without being retained. The answers depend upon a review of exactly what has happened to bring the matter to the point where the other side has sent an agreement for you to sign. While it may cost you several hundred dollars to retain a lawyer and get legal advice, you are dealing with property that I assume has significant value and this is not the kind of situation you want to try doing on your own.

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  • Can the niece of the childless deceased be considered a child of the deceased in Maryland

    My aunt supported me as a child and young adult. She also supported me and my 2 children until I started working at the age of 24. I am now 64, and facing inheritance taxes.

    George’s Answer

    Maryland has a statute 1-205 of the Estates & Trusts Article that ends with this sentence: "A child does not include a stepchild, a foster child, or a grandchild or more remote descendant." A niece is a "more remote descendant." Your question hints at an argument that you are a foster child but as you can see a foster child is also not a "child" in Maryland.

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  • In Maryland, doesn't an interested person have 20 days to file a caveat to a will after being properly notified by executor?

    As the executor, I properly and timely notified my brother (not in the will) and so did the Register of Wills a year ago. Though an heir at law, "interested person", there was a will with me mentioned as the only legatee. If he were to have filed ...

    George’s Answer

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    Under Maryland law a Petition to Caveat a Will must be filed within 6 months of the appointment of a PR under the Will that is to be challenged. The statute is E&T Section 5-207 and reads:
    § 5-207. Petition to caveat will
    (a) Regardless of whether a petition for probate has been filed, a verified petition to caveat a will may be filed at any time prior to the expiration of six months following the first appointment of a personal representative under a will, even if there be a subsequent judicial probate or appointment of a personal representative. If a different will is offered subsequently for probate, a petition to caveat the later offered will may be filed at a time within the later to occur of:
    (1) Three months after the later probate; or
    (2) Six months after the first appointment of a personal representative of a probated will.
    (b) If the petition to caveat is filed before the filing of a petition for probate, or after administrative probate, it has the effect of a request for judicial probate. If filed after judicial probate the matter shall be reopened and a new proceeding held as if only administrative probate had previously been determined. In either case the provisions of Subtitle 4 of this title apply.

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  • Is it legal for someone to sign my name on mortgage documents?

    We bought a house July 2009, just went through paperwork and found two signatures that are not mine. They even misspelled my name. I never looked at the paperwork before because I have been dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

    George’s Answer

    Generally, it's not appropriate for someone to sign your name to a legal document unless they have your permission or a power of attorney from you.

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  • A wife's husband dies and his name is on a title to living Parents property.

    A wife's husband dies and his name is on a title to living Parents property. The oldest brother is going to use the death certificate to remove his name from that and other financial instruments. Is there anything for the wife to do? Is this a ...

    George’s Answer

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    It is a probate AND real estate question combined. It depends upon how the title is structured. For example, if the husband is on title with the parents as a joint tenant then upon the husband's death title passed to the parents and a death certificate will do the job. On the other hand, if title was not as joint tenants, then the husband's ownership interest is subject to being probated and will pass under his Will to the people named in the Will or if no Will than to his wife and children.

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