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Dawn Renee Levine
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Dawn Levine’s Answers

64 total


  • Should I get a will or a living trust?

    I have over a million in assets. I want to leave it to my significant other and my siblings.

    Dawn’s Answer

    In your case, I would lean more toward a Trust rather than relying on a Will. The reason is your desire to leave property to a significant other. This person is not legally related to you and has little or no rights here in Georgia. This kind of situation can easily result in a Will contest (expensive). Also, since a Will has no legal effect until you pass, that leaves your significant other very vulnerable during your lifetime. If you were incapacitated a Will would do nothing to protect your significant other. In addition, if your Will were lost then your significant other could be accidentally disinherited, (or even deliberately disinherited if someone hid or destroyed the Will. It happens.) Of course, there are a lot of factors to consider before making the decision to opt for a Trust. For example, what kind of assets you have is important. Certain kinds of assets can't be held in trust without tax issues. Some assets can go to loved ones without the use of a Will or a Trust. It is also very important for you to be open and honest with the estate planning attorney about how everyone gets along. Will they circle the wagons upon your death or are you the glue holding everyone together? Hiring an estate planning attorney would save much more money in the long run than trying to do this yourself.

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  • What form is used to file Petition to courts for executor mishandling estate?

    McDuffie County Courthouse said we need to provide the form

    Dawn’s Answer

    I am sorry to say that there is no standard form for this. You will probably need to hire an attorney to draft this for you. Some courts are very forgiving in what they will accept. In some, a letter complaining of the wrongdoing is enough to get you into court. You would probably want an attorney to assist you with the hearing also. Unfortunately, I think you will need to hire help.

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  • If you die without a will is the house you and your wife own both on deed consider your estate?

    If you own a home with a spouse and one spouse dies and the home deed is in both of your name jointly is this part of the decease person estate that hospital can come after for bills.

    Dawn’s Answer

    It depends on how the deed is written. There are two ways to own property jointly in Georgia. One way requires probate which exposes the property to creditors. The other way passes automatically to the survivor which makes it very difficult to reach for most creditors. You need to have an attorney who regularly practices in probate to look at the deed. If you hold it in the way that exposes it to probate and creditors, there are other options available for your protection. Again, an experienced probate attorney can help you assess whether the protections available to you as the surviving spouse would be helpful to you. Do not delay. Some of your options have time limits.

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  • Probating A Will

    In Georgia, does the 12 month support law (for minors) superceed someones last will & testament? Exp: The parent of 3 children pass away. Two of these children are over 18 years of age and one is younger than 18. Does the minor autimaticall...

    Dawn’s Answer

    The minor (or whoever is taking care of them) does have the right to claim the entire estate. The thinking behind this law is that those over 18 can support themselves while a minor cannot. There is a two year limit from the date of death to file this claim. If an objection is filed to the Year's Support claim then there is essentially a checkbook type analysis of how much is needed for the child's care. Objections can be filed by creditors but, they are most often filed by heirs/beneficiaries who feel they are being cheated. It is entirely possible that a judge might conclude that the entire estate is needed for the child's care. Things that would be considered include how young is the child, how much is in the estate, what special educational or health needs might the child have, etc. It is important to consider that a protracted legal battle can lead to all the money going to the attorneys. I suggest getting everyone together to discuss the best outcome for everyone, if that is possible.

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  • My husband passed away in TX and I reside in GA. I have found he has bank accounts that were not joint. What do I need to do?

    We have joint accounts and there are two account that has his name only. How do I get access to those accounts?

    Dawn’s Answer

    Before you file for probate, check with the bank to see if he had a POD or TOD on the account. Bank accounts can have the equivalent of a beneficiary designation on them (called Pay on Death or Transfer on Death). If it doesn't have that you will probably need to file for probate. However, you said he died in TX. Did he reside there or just die there? If he did not live in Texas, the probate should not be there. It should be in the state in which he maintained his residence.

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  • My son is in Federal Prison and I would like to make him beneficiary in a living Trust. pros/cons?

    The trust would be a "Revocable Living Trust".

    Dawn’s Answer

    Trusts can be very useful for encouraging responsible behavior. I definitely recommend talking to an estate planning attorney about the nature of his troubles. Your trust can be tailored to help him avoid the problems of his past and if necessary to protect him from himself. Trusts can be structured with income matching to encourage employment. They can include provisions for drug treatment or counseling or other things he might need. It is important to caution you that you must be completely open with the attorney about your son's difficulties so the attorney can properly address them.

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  • My siblings and I are requesting a copy of our grandmothers last will and testament even though our father was the executor.

    All grandchildren were given huge sums of money and the estate was worth 7 million dollars, but we were told that we were given nothing. We do not talk to our parents and are convinced they are hiding our inheritance from us and want to see the ...

    Dawn’s Answer

    It is actually even easier than that. Cobb County Probate has all pleadings and filings for probate online. www.cobbprobate.org If what you are looking for has been filed recently it may not be scanned in yet. If that is the case then you can get it in one of the other methods described by the other attorneys. However, even after you get the Will (assuming you are included in it) you will most likely need a verified accounting to see if you are getting what you are due.

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  • Can I start an estate administration in Georgia probate court without a death certificate?

    Mother died without a Will in November 2014 but death certificate not yet available because circumstances of her death were deemed "suspicious" and cause of death hasn't been determined yet. But my siblings and I need to get an administration goin...

    Dawn’s Answer

    I am so sorry to hear about your mom. Please make sure that you get your answers only from attorneys who know Georgia law. One of the answers given here is wrong. There is nothing in the Georgia code that requires a death certificate. A few probate courts may request some proof of death (even though the law does not say they can.) However, there are other proofs of death that can be obtained. Often, a death notice from the newspaper responsible for legal notices in that county will suffice. You can also get a document called proof of death from the medical examiner. Before you go to this trouble, hire an attorney who regularly practices probate in your county. He or she will know what your court prefers.

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  • Can a living trusts co-own a property with right of survivorship?

    I have a rental property with a mortgage lien. If there was no lien I would transfer the property into a living trust. Can I now put the living trust on the title with right of survivorship so if I passed away the trust could pay off the lien and ...

    Dawn’s Answer

    The short answer is no. Because a trust cannot die it cannot be a survivor. However, having the mortgage on it might not prevent you from putting it in trust now. A transfer to a trust does not always "accelerate" the loan (trigger a payoff requirement.) The answer to whether you can do this lies with your lender. They may require a review of your trust before they will say yes. Note: There has been a lot of turnover in the mortgage industry. If the person you talk to does not seem knowledgeable, go up the chain until you can find someone who is.

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  • What are my rights as executor and administrator of my deceased husband estate court papers filed and given to whomever needed

    there is property in Virginia and i am in Georgia advise of rights

    Dawn’s Answer

    Regarding the Virginia property, you will most likely need to file in Virginia to get yourself officially recognized there. This is called Ancillary Probate.
    You used the term executor and administrator. You should be only one or the other. If there is a Will that names you as executor then your job is to carry out the instructions in the Will. Your rights may be outlined in the Will as well. If the Will is silent on a particular topic then the GA code spells out what you can do. For example, if the Will says you get no fee for acting as executor then that is how it works. If the Will says nothing about your fee then you get the state set rate. That is generally 2.5% of what comes into the estate and 2.5% of what goes out of the estate with some special rules for fees on certain assets. If there is no Will then you are the administrator. In that case, your rights and responsibilities are set out in the Georgia code. For example, your fee would be the rate quoted above. You may or may not have the right to sell things without asking the court for permission. Surprisingly, this can be the case even if you are the only heir. I sense that you are not the only heir and things may not be going well since you are asking this question. My recommendation is to hire an attorney who regularly practices in the area of probate. A little money spent up front to get you on the right foot is always cheaper than hiring someone to get you out of a jam later.

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