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Doris Jordan Wiggen

Doris Wiggen’s Answers

34 total

  • My husband is deceased and his family is trying to take the house my name is on the deed of the house is the house legally mine?

    we were getting a divorce but never divorced at all no separation and his family will not allow me to remove my belongs from the home and continue to threaten and harass me and my family what should i do please help

    Doris’s Answer

    I'm so sorry you're having to go through this. You need to meet with a lawyer as soon as possible. Although your name is on the deed and the house would normally pass to you at your husband's death, his estate may have a claim for equitable distribution of the assets.

    Equitable distribution is the process where the court divides the property between the spouses. Under North Carolina law, a claim for equitable distribution survives the death of one of the spouses, even if the claim was not filed prior to death as long as the spouses were living separate and apart at the time of death.

    A lawyer can assist you in determining what rights you have in the home as well as any other property that your husband owned prior to death.

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  • Once gifted for Medicaid eligibility (in 5 years), do I have a way to protect the property I gifted from being misappropriated?

    I plan to gift my property to my daughter to start the 5-year clock on Medicaid eligibility. I have NO reason to believe she cannot be trusted to maintain the property for my benefit but if there are mechanisms that can ensure protection of my pro...

    Doris’s Answer

    Unfortunately, if you give away property you cannot control what the person who receives the gift does with that property. A gift belongs to the person that the gift is given to and they can do whatever they want with the property. There are some alternatives to outright gifts that may be safer than simply giving away your property. The property can be placed in an irrevocable trust, which can be drafted with restrictions on the use of the property. Depending on the type of asset, you may be able to use a revocable life estate deed, which would allow you to maintain control over the property. Outright gifts have other disadvantages too. If the assets have appreciated in value since you've owned them, your daughter may have to pay capital gains tax on the property when she sells it. This is because she will have the same cost basis in the property that you have. However, if she inherits the property from you at your death, she will receive a "step-up" in the value to the current fair market value. In addition, by giving the assets to your daughter, you will expose the assets to her creditors. If she files for bankruptcy, goes through a divorce, gets into a car accident and has large medical bills, the assets that you gifted to her will now be subject to her creditors. I recommend that you speak with an elder law attorney before you make any gifts of your property so that you can make an informed decision.

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  • Medicaid

    My mother-in-law would like to go to nursing home. Her house is still in her name but has been willed to her daughter. Her deceased spouse was a Korean War veteran. Medicaid seems to be difficult to obtain even though she qualifies income wise....

    Doris’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    I highly recommend your mother-in-law speak with an elder law attorney in her area to see what options may be available to help with nursing home costs. As the surviving spouse of a wartime veteran, your mother-in-law may be eligible for some assistance through the VA. Eligible surviving spouses may be entitled to up to $1,094.00 per month to help pay for health care costs. However, if your mother-in-law needs nursing home care, that may not be enough to fully cover her care. If she is considering applying for Medicaid, an experienced elder law attorney can handle the application process for her. Your mother-in-law's house will not count as an asset when she applies for Medicaid, but it will be subject to estate recovery at her death, meaning that the house may have to be sold in order to pay back Medicaid for your mother-in-law's care. Your mother-in-law cannot gift the house during her lifetime because that will cause a penalty period if she is in need of Medicaid now. However, your mother-in-law's attorney can advise her on the best options to protect the house from estate recovery. To find an elder law attorney in your area, you can do a search through the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys or ElderCounsel. I've posted links to those organizations below.

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  • In the state of North Carolina, if a husband and wife sign a deed of trust on a property, is that considered joint ownership?

    The property was originally in my fathers name. My mom and dad signed a deed of trust on the property and my mom had power of appoinment. When my dad passed away my mom paid the bank the remaining balance. Did that make my mom the sole owner of th...

    Doris’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    In North Carolina a Deed of Trust is used to pledge real property to secure a loan. If your dad purchased real estate in his sole name and borrowed money to purchase the property, the lender may have required your mom's signature on the deed of trust in order to ensure that your mother's marital interest in the property did not take priority over the lender's secured interest. The fact that your mother signed the deed of trust does not by itself give your mother an interest in the property. If the property was held solely in your dad's name at his death, his will would determine who received the property. You mentioned that your mother had a power of appointment, but it is not clear from these facts if she had the power to appoint the persons who would receive the property in question. It is important that you meet with an attorney who practices in the area of wills and trusts to review the deed and your father's last will and testament to determine who the rightful owners of the property are.

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  • My mother died without a will. there are seven siblings. I had power attorney that allowed me to distribute all of her property

    what must I do next? once she died is the power of attorney valid?

    Doris’s Answer

    I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's passing. I would suggest that you meet with an attorney to walk you through the estate administration process. You no longer have the authority to distribute your mother's property now that she has passed. The power granted in a Power of Attorney ends at death. Since your mother died without a will, her estate will need to be administered according to North Carolina's Intestate Succession Laws. The Clerk of Court will appoint someone (perhaps one of you or your siblings) to serve as the Administrator of your mother's estate. Until someone is appointed as the Administrator and given Letters of Administration, no one will have the authority to distribute your mother's property. I've attached a link below that explains how the estate administration process works in North Carolina and who is qualified to serve as an Administrator. I hope you will find this information helpful.

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  • As excuetor can i charge my sister rent for staying in parents home after they die home if going to be sold

    my sister lived with my parents for a few months to help take care of them at the time of their death we all agreed that the home had to be sold asap. But my brother and i couldnt get my sister to leave . She agreed by signing papers that she wou...

    Doris’s Answer

    If you and your siblings are all beneficiaries of your parents' estate, then your sister became part owner of the house with you and your brother at your parents' death. As part owner of the house, she would have the right to stay in the house without paying rent. She may have given up that right in the papers she signed, but your question seems to indicate that she only agreed to move out on a certain date. The estate can and should be reimbursed for the housing expenses that were paid. Unless the house was specifically willed to the estate, the estate cannot pay any expenses associated with the house. Real estate which has not been willed to the estate vests in the heirs at death. Rents from those properties are not income to the estate and estate funds cannot be used to pay expenses on the real estate such as mortgages, taxes, insurance or utilities. As heirs to the property, you and your siblings take the property subject to any encumbrances and must pay those expenses out of your own funds. The estate can be reimbursed from the proceeds of the sale before the proceeds are distributed to you and your siblings. I suggest that you meet with an attorney to ensure that you have properly paid any expenses prior to making a final distribution of the property.

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  • I am a 74 year old widow living in NC. Could I benefit from putting assets in an irrevocable trust?

    My total estate is worth $1.2M. I have two heirs that I want to share in my estate equally upon my death.

    Doris’s Answer

    There are many benefits to using trusts, including the ability to avoid probate if the trust is properly funded. Probate is the process of administering your estate at your death under the supervision of the probate court. Property that is held in your trust is typically not required to be administered through the probate process. This means greater privacy for you and your beneficiaries since property passing through probate is public record. There is typically a shorter wait time for your beneficiaries to receive the property after your death when the property is held in trust. In North Carolina, the typical probate estate takes a minimum of three months and can often take much longer. There are also fees that must be paid to the court when your property goes through probate. These fees are avoided when property is held in trust.

    A trust can be either revocable or irrevocable. An irrevocable trust can provide protection from creditors and protect the property in the event of a long-term illness or disability, however you lose some control over your assets when they are placed in an irrevocable trust. I recommend you meet with an experienced estate planning attorney in your area to decide if this option is right for you.

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  • Medicaid is terminating benefits for my mother.

    Her home was deeded to her three children in February of 2000 reserving a "life estate" for her and my father who is deceased. We sold the property in July of 2011. Now social services is saying that NC considers that a transfer of assets and she ...

    Doris’s Answer

    It sounds like the issue has to do with the proceeds that were received from the sale of the home. In North Carolina, a life estate in real property is not counted for medicaid purposes. However, when the property was sold in 2011 your mom should have received money from the sale of the home equal to the value of her life estate. If the money she received from the sale of the home was more than $2,000 then she would no longer be eligible for medicaid. If she never received the money from the sale because it was given to someone else then that is a transfer of assets and under medicaid rules your mom would be sanctioned for the transfer, meaning that medicaid would not pay for her care during the sanction period. Under the current rules, the sanction would be equal to one month for every $6,300 that was transferred. There are ways to cure the transfer and if you would like assistance with this matter, our office would be happy to assist you. You can reach us at (919) 680-0000.

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  • Beneficiary rights? Do I have any if something doesn't seem right?

    I am the beneficiary to my aunt's estate (30%), her boyfriend is the executor and will receive 60%. It's being handled by an attorney but a year has passed and I haven't heard anything from anyone. Additionally, the boyfriend's story went from hav...

    Doris’s Answer

    I would recommend you meet with an attorney. You mentioned that the estate has been opened and has been in the process of administration for a year now. If that is the case, there should be paperwork and accountings filed with the Clerk of Court. I see that you are in Cary. Was the Decedent a resident of Wake County? If so, the Wake County Clerk of Court will have any information that has been filed in the estate. This information is public record.

    An attorney can help you review the filings and contact the estate attorney to find out what is going on. Real estate issues can sometimes delay the administration, but you won't know until you review the estate files if there is a legitimate reason for the delay or if action needs to be taken to compel the final accounting.

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  • Is settling with charities named in a will possible if they are receiving a substantial amount?

    My father died and appointed me as executor. I have two siblings. There are monetary provisions in the will for each of us. However, after the dollar amounts given to each of us, he left the rest to two charities. The rest is a substantial amount ...

    Doris’s Answer

    There is nothing to stop you from offering the charities a settlement, but they will most likely decline your offer. If the will leaves property to the charities and there is no reason to contest the will, then they are entitled to receive that property. It is unlikely that they will give up any of the property.

    As the Executor of your father's will you have a fiduciary duty to all of the beneficiaries named in his will. You may want to meet with an attorney who handles estate administration or probate to review the will and ensure that you are meeting all of your responsibilities as the Executor.

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