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Stephanie Sauer Woods
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Stephanie Woods’s Answers

426 total


  • As a parent, do I need Guardianship of the estate of my minor child if he became the beneficiary of a large insurance policy?

    My child is 8 years old, his Dad passed away suddently leaving him an insurance policy over $200K. We bought these policies while we were married. When we got divorce 4 years ago, it became part of our marital settlement, we will each keep the pol...

    Stephanie’s Answer

    My condolences to your son for sudden loss of his father.
    A guardianship will be required and in Orange County there will need to be a hearing on the matter. There is a bit more paperwork necessary than just a petition, but an experienced guardianship attorney will know exactly what to do for this matter.
    You, as the mother, have preference in being appointed as the guardian. There are certain things that would disqualify an individual from serving as guardian, but they likely will not be an issue with you.
    The Court does not keep the money; once a guardianship is established and a guardian is appointed, the guardian will be required to establish a guardianship account and the funds will be deposited into that account. A guardian is required to provide the Court with an annual accounting every year showing all activity that has taken place with the guardianship funds. When your son turns 18 years old, the guardianship will have to be closed and the guardianship funds will need to be released over to him.
    The law requires that a guardian be represented by an attorney, so you will need to consult with and hire an attorney to represent you in this matter.

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  • If one of our mother's grandsons lives in her house free while she is in assisted living, will he have any claim to the house ?

    The mother has Alzheimer's, and the grandson's dad (one of mom's sons) has been taking money from her bank account for years. I am afraid they are up to something with the latest request to have their son live in her house.

    Stephanie’s Answer

    It all depends on how the house is titled, as well as, what her estate planning documents state as to her wishes and desires for her estate and house.
    It is advisable for you to set up a consultation appointment with an elder law attorney to discuss your mother's situation in detail.
    You may also want to contact adult protective services regarding any abuse or exploitation that is taking place.

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  • If I'm on the deed and my parents passed away and leave the house to my sister in the will do I have to leave

    n/a

    Stephanie’s Answer

    The ultimate answer to your question is no. At least not at this moment.
    To further answer your question we would have to know the type of ownership you had with your parents on the deed. If it was joint tenants with rights of survivorship, the house is yours. If it was tenants in common, then your sister would have ownership in the house as well which may require for you to buy out her interest or sell and split the proceeds according to the ownership interest.
    It is best for you to schedule a consultation with an attorney to review the deed and Will in order to see what the situation is now that your parents have passed away.

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  • My father in law passed away Friday. My wife is executor of the will which was filed this AM. Is probate required.

    Some funds did not have POD listed nor beneficiaries, the will stipulates 50/50 split between her and her brother. There is no property involved, her father sold the house years ago and was living in an independent living facility. We reside in Il...

    Stephanie’s Answer

    My condolences to you, your wife, and the family.
    If there are any assets that remained in your father in law's name after his passing (ie that did not have a beneficiary designation [POD, TOD, ITF] or was not jointly owned with rights of survivorship) then said assets will have to go through probate. From what you have written it does appear that a probate is likely. Depending on the nature and value of the assets that will require probate, as well as, potential creditors, it may be possible to do a summary administration of the probate estate. My suggestion would be for your wife to schedule a consultation appointment with a probate attorney while you are still in town to discuss the situation in detail in order to determine the type of probate administration that would be required for your father in law's estate. Once the type of probate administration is determined, the attorney will be able to give you an overview of the process and a projected timeframe.

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  • Is a quitclaim deed the right option to help my widowed mother save her 2 homes (only assets). Needs long term facility care.

    Dad is deceased. Mom's current retirement income is too much for Medicaid, not enough to pay out of pocket though. Both homes are in both of their names. His name hasn't been removed from anything. One home is a rental property the other is our pr...

    Stephanie’s Answer

    You need to meet with an elder law attorney ASAP. There are options available (such as special deeds, special trusts, living will, durable power of attorney, etc.) that can resolve this matter but you will need the assistance of an attorney to properly accomplish what needs to be done.
    There are so many damaging effects of doing quit claim deeds that it is strongly not advisable to proceed with that action, including but not limited to, tax implications, loss of homestead rights and protections, disqualification of Medicaid, etc.
    Please consult with a knowledgeable elder law attorney ASAP and before you take any action that could cause grave harm to the situation.

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  • Can a person with a sex offender status legally be denied access to A SKILLED NURSING CARE facility.

    He is 77 yrs old , property owner, vet, and has medicare and private insurance. He is being released after a 10 day stay in the hospital. He is not able to be on his own.

    Stephanie’s Answer

    You should speak with a criminal defense attorney about this matter. However, it is my general understanding that a person with a sex offender status is not allowed to reside in a facility because the facility has residence who are considered to be vulnerable within the operation of the law.
    Perhaps you can see about getting the sex offender status reversed if that is possible in this situation. Otherwise you may have to look into the option of having home health care services rendered to the individual in his home.
    Aside from discussing the matter with a criminal defense attorney, you may want to also contact an attorney who is knowledgeable of the options that may be available to the individual via the VA and Medicaid.

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  • My brother and I are seeking physical and property guardianship of our father. He is 88 years old and requires constant care.

    My brother has now taken physical custody of my father but my mother still has custody of all of his finances including his pension, SS, IRA. Mom refuses to discuss or disclose any of the financial details. Since taking physical custody she refu...

    Stephanie’s Answer

    You may not have to obtain a guardianship of your father as there may be lesser restrictive alternatives to resolve the issues. However, if you do go the guardianship route, an attorney will be necessary because the law requires that guardians be represented by attorneys.
    Your best bet is to set up a consultation appointment with an attorney who practices in the areas of guardianship and estate planning to discuss the options available to resolve this situation.
    All my best to you and your family.

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  • NFA Guntrust

    I created a revocable living trust I intend to use as a gun trust. There seems to be a lot of noise on the web that these sort of trusts are almost loopholes in allowing citizens to register class 3 firearms. My concern is what are the specifics t...

    Stephanie’s Answer

    I agree with my colleagues. You need to hire an attorney who specifically knows how to properly draft a legitimate gun trust. Otherwise you and your beneficiaries are subject to some serious consequences.

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  • What is appropriate time to transfer home to daughter under medcd caregiver exemption after 2 yr. live in requirement is met.

    I moved into mom's home 4.5 years ago when her cognitive impairment made living alone unsafe. Knowing well the eligibility criteria for the caregiver exemption, I have asked at legal seminars and gotten mixed responses regarding optimal timing o...

    Stephanie’s Answer

    It is likely that you are getting differing responses because it all depends on the circumstances and facts of the situation. There are multiple Medicaid programs and some of this will depend on the program your mom will be applying for.
    It appears from one of your responses that you are not seeking to apply for the Institutional Care Program. Please note that the programs you may be looking into have an extremely long wait list and it may be awhile before your mom receives any benefits from those particular programs.
    Although you have not liked this response thus far, it would serve you well to sit down with an experienced elder law attorney who is familiar with the various Medicaid programs in order for you to set forth a proper plan. Most attorneys will charge a flat rate consultation fee to sit down with you and go over the facts and options available to do proper Medicaid planning.

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  • How do I force an out-of-country executor to pay some beneficiaries of a NJ will?

    My wife has inherited a small amount (abt. $1500) from her grandmother. Her son is executor and after she died, he refuses to send my wife or her sister their share. The will is in NJ but he lives in England. For the amount (total 3,000) it may n...

    Stephanie’s Answer

    Has the Will be submitted to and admitted by the Court?
    Your wife and her sister will need to consult with a probate attorney licensed to practice in the state where the probate administration is taking place, not where the executor is located.

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