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Dawn Renee Levine
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Dawn Levine’s Answers

60 total


  • 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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  • My GA Will has an executor of estate and also a trustee in charge of all money. Is this allowed and will it hold up?

    Two people are listed in my Will in GA. One will handle burial and selling of assets. The other will handle all money (current and future) for beneficiaries listed. Is this allowed in GA?

    Dawn’s Answer

    This is allowed in Georgia. It is referred to as a testamentary trust. Your question "will it hold up" hints that you think there might be trouble. If you think there will be someone who wants to challenge, you should seriously consider creating the trust now (Living Revocable Trust or Intervivos Trust). A trust is much harder to challenge in Georgia. Wills must be submitted to the courts. The court then allows a period for the closest relatives to contest or object. Trusts do not have any automatic interaction with the court. For this reason they are much more private. The closest relatives are not automatically contacted by the courts. If you decide to do this. It is vitally important that you make the effort to coordinate your assets with the Trust. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to guide you and assist you with this process. You definitely want someone experienced in how to put assets into trust properly. Trusts in Georgia are usually cheaper than regular probate. They are most definitely cheaper than a Will contest. If the Trust is properly drafted it will not increase your income taxes or hinder your use of the assets in any way. You are still free to sell, buy or spend assets just as you can now.

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  • Mother passed away leaving everything in a trust. Trust gets distributed when father passes away. Can I get an account statement

    Father is still alive. Can I get a financial statement of the trust

    Dawn’s Answer

    The answer is it depends on what this trust says. Almost all trusts we draft are structured so that only the current beneficiaries are entitled to reports. It appears you are next in line but, not currently a beneficiary. The outcome might also depend on how long ago the trust was created. If the trust is silent on who is entitled to the reports, then the default will be what the law was at the time the trust was created. The default rules changed a few years ago to expand the class of beneficiaries entitled to reports.

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  • I filed a caveat to a one year support request my fathers widow filed because she requested all of my fathers personal estate.

    My fathers wife's attorney is asking that I release the caveat because his heirs will end up with nothing because he had a large tax lien filed against him and there will be nothing left when his debts are paid. If I release the caveat will there ...

    Dawn’s Answer

    If you release the caveat there should not be a hearing. It is rare for me to say this but, your situation is really too complicated for an AVVO answer. You need some detailed guidance to weigh the pros and cons of releasing the caveat and moving forward with it. There may be additional concessions you could ask for depending on the specifics of the estate/debts and assets. Get some advice from someone experienced in probate matters.

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  • Can my husband be held responsible for his dads debt after his death if he is the benefiary on his insurance policy.

    The policy was only $10, 000. And was used for burial. His dad left alot of debt and we want to know if we will be sought responsible for his debts.

    Dawn’s Answer

    Even if there were probate, the funeral expenses are one of the highest priority debts. That expense would come before most others (like credit cards, for example). The lower priority creditors would be out of luck. You are not personally responsible for dad's debts, unless you co-signed. I recommend that you do not talk to debt collectors on the phone. They will tell you anything to get you to pay. Be aware that if there any debts that are secured by an asset, the creditors will come after that asset if the debt is not paid (cars-car loans, house-mortgage).

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