Skip to main content
Doris Jordan Wiggen

Doris Wiggen’s Answers

34 total

  • My wife died suddenly without a will do I as her husband become the beneficiary?

    I have 2 stepdaughters one is 22 the other is 11, who stay with their grandmother, what are they entitled to?

    Doris’s Answer

    I'm so sorry to hear about your wife's passing. In North Carolina, when someone dies without a will, the spouse and children share in the estate. When the decedent has two or more children, the spouse will receive 1/3 of any real estate owned by the decedent. The children will receive the other 2/3 of the real estate. In addition, the spouse receives the first $60,000 in personal property plus 1/3 of the remaining personal property. However, depending on how the property is titled, you may receive all of the property. For example, if you and your wife owned your home as tenancy by the entireties, the home would belong 100% to you at your wife's death. I would suggest you meet with an attorney that handles probate and estate administration cases to review the property your wife owned at death and help you determine what property will pass to you and if any property will be shared with your wife's children.

    See question 
  • Do I need a family law attorney?

    98 and 90 y/o couple, long standing family friends that live in Tryon want to come live in assisted living in Ohio to be with family and friends. Adult Social Services said they have interim guardianship over them until he can be deemed incompete...

    Doris’s Answer

    If social services has been appointed interim guardian it does not automatically revoke a durable power of attorney. However, a court appointed guardian can revoke or amend a power of attorney. You should contact the clerk's office in the county where the couple lives to find out when the incompetency hearing will be held. In addition, the clerk's office can tell you who the guardian ad litem is. The guardian ad litem is an attorney appointed for the person who is the subject of the incompetency proceeding. The guardian ad litem's job is to make recommendations to the court based on what is in the best interest of that person. If the clerk determines that the person is incompetent, he or she will appoint a guardian. Preference is given to individuals over public agents (such as DSS) if there is an appropriate individual who is capable of serving. I highly recommend that you meet with an elder law attorney as soon as possible and attend the incompetency hearing.

    See question 
  • My father willed a car to me worth $10,000. My brother-in-law (the executor of my father's estate) sold the car to his mother f

    My father willed a car to me worth $10,000. My brother-in-law (the executor of my father's estate) sold the car to his mother for $4000, and gave me nothing. Is that legal?

    Doris’s Answer

    If your father left you the car in his will, then the executor should not have sold the car to someone else. The executor is under a fiduciary duty to follow the terms of the will and can be held liable for failure to follow that duty. You should meet with an attorney to discuss your options.

    See question 
  • Father passed away and I have rights of survivorship. Bank wants to take home. Help!!

    My ill father listed me as the joint tenant with rights of survivorship on the deed of his home so that i may care for him.He was the only person listed on the mortgage though I was making all the payments. He passed away unexpectedly and though I...

    Doris’s Answer

    If you have continued making the payments on the property, the bank cannot foreclose on the property just because your father passed away. Banks will sometimes try to call the loan due at the borrower's death under the "due on sale" clause of the mortgage. However, federal law specifically prohibits banks from doing this when the property is transferred due to death. The bank should allow you to assume the loan. If you do not make the payments, the bank can foreclose for lack of payment. The link below is a link to the law which applies.

    See question 
  • My sister and I bought a house in North Carolina six years ago. She passed away a few months later. We have a joint mortgage.

    I have made every mortgage payment. My sister's two grown daughters now say's they own half the house. There was no will. Do they have any legal right's to my house?

    Doris’s Answer

    The answer to your question depends on how the deed is titled. You mentioned that you and your sister both purchased the house. The deed could have been drafted so that you and your sister owned the house as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. With the right of survivorship, at your sister's death the house would pass to you 100% as the surviving joint owner. However, if the deed does not indicate that you and your sister owned the property as joint tenants with the right of survivorship, then you would own the property as tenants-in-common. Tenants-in-common ownership means that at your sister's death, her 1/2 interest in the property would pass to her heirs and you would still own only your 1/2 of the property.

    See question 
  • My wifes parents have both passed. The will states that any assest will be divided equal to the four siblings. My wife has been

    told that if she passes before the estste is setteld that her share will be divided by the remaining siblings. She wants me to be the benificient of any of those funds. Her older sister is the exutoress of the parents will and she is the one stat...

    Doris’s Answer

    Your wife's sister may be confused by the terms of the will. For example, if the will states, "to my surviving children in equal shares" this would give each of the children living at the time of their parent's death an equal share of the property. The children only need to be living at the time of the parent's death, not at the time the estate is settled. In some instances, the will may state that the beneficiaries must survive the testator by a certain period of time. If that is the case, once the survivorship period has been met, regardless of whether the estate is settled, your wife would inherit the property.

    See question 
  • To avoid making a will public can a simple trust be used and upon death the trust abides by the content of the will.

    The estate consists of real estate (no mortgage) and one auto (no liens).

    Doris’s Answer

    A trust can be used to avoid a public administration. The trust would state who the property should go to at death and the Trustee would follow the terms of the trust to divide the property once the trustmaker has passed away. It is very important that the assets be transferred to the trust during the trustmaker's lifetime in order to avoid probate. To transfer a house to the trust, your attorney would prepare a new deed to the Trustee. To transfer a car to the trust, you would sign the title over to the Trustee. It is important to speak with your attorney about the pros and cons of transferring certain property into trust. For example, it is not always advisable to transfer a home into trust and your attorney can advise you whether it makes sense in your situation to do so.

    See question 
  • Am I responsible for father's unpaid income taxes? There is no will.

    My father-in-law passed away in NY state 2 months ago. He left no will. His house has no equity in it and he has under $6K in the bank. We have not gone for Letters of Administration. We have sold his car for pennies and am working on selling the ...

    Doris’s Answer

    You should not distribute any of your father-in-law's assets until you have an opportunity to meet with a probate attorney in New York. While you normally would not be personally liable for his unpaid taxes, you could be liable if you distribute assets from his estate that should have been paid to his creditors. A New York probate attorney can instruct you as to which assets are subject to your father-in-law's creditors and explain the responsibilities you will have as administrator of his estate.

    See question 
  • I live in NC but need estate planning advice for my parents, who live in SC. Do I have to find a SC lawyer?

    I need to set up an Irrevocable Trust so I can start the process for filing for a VA Aid and Attendance Pension for my dad. Is setting up this sort of trust state specific? If I can do this without traveling back and forth it would be a great he...

    Doris’s Answer

    I recommend that your parents meet with an attorney in South Carolina to determine if an irrevocable trust would be appropriate. Although the VA Aid and Attendance Pension is a federal benefit, Medicaid laws are state specific. Transfers to an irrevocable trust will be subject to a five year look back period for Medicaid, so it is important that your parents meet with an attorney familiar with both VA benefits and the Medicaid laws in their home state to determine an appropriate plan.

    See question 
  • Just got a Medicaid lien for my fatherinlaw who passed 04/2010. There are no assets. What to do?

    I was healthcare POA and my husband was financial POA. They are asking for the monies they paid to the nursing home. There was no estate when he died. How do we respond? We are in NC. Isn't there a 2 year statute?

    Doris’s Answer

    I recommend that you meet with an elder law attorney as soon as possible to review the claim you received from Medicaid. If your father-in-law owned any real estate at his death, it is possible that although you did not have to administer an estate, there were assets that Medicaid could seek recovery from. There are certain instances where estate recovery can be waived. An elder law attorney who is familiar with medicaid estate recovery can assist you in determining if the claim should be waived.

    See question