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Carol Anne Johnson
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Carol Johnson’s Answers

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  • Dad died and willed my Mom 1/7th of a condo in Florida. Then my Mom died in NC. Do I have to probate her will in NC AND FL?

    Dad owned a condo in FL. He died in 4/2103 and his will left his 6 children and his wife (our Mom) the condo. I am executor. 8 months later Mom died in 12/2013. My sister is executrix. I am currently probating Dad's will in FL. My probate lawyer...

    Carol’s Answer

    This is why I recommend my clients put their properties in a trust - it avoids having to open ancillary probates in all the states where property may be owned. Yes, a probate of the condo is necessary. I personally think that since it is an ancillary probate, $2500 is on the high side, unless it does include ALL the court fees, recording fees, etc. Clarify the fees with your attorney.

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  • I went to a social security disability hearing and the social security vocational expert did not say anything. Is that bad?

    I strong medical evidence from several doctors that I have Bi-polar disorder,anxiety disorder, and mood disorder. And I cannot work. The vocational expert from social security never asked me any questions or recommended any work I could do? The h...

    Carol’s Answer

    A short hearing is either very good or very bad. If the ALJ has already made a decision based upon the evidence at hand, they will typically not ask any hypothetical questions of the VR expert. Have you been doing any VR services? What was the outcome? Sometimes, just by being able to participate in the VR services, the judge could decide that there was a reason the VR thought that you could do a job. So, all that I can tell you is the judge felt that s/he did not need any additional information from the VR expert in order to rule on your appeal. Hopefully, you prevailed. If not, there is still another appeal available to you.

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  • Hello, Does my mother owe money to her step mother for a house that the step mother had life time rights too?

    My grandfather remarried in 82, passed in 93 and willed his house to my Mother, but gave life time rights to his second wife. now 33 yrs later she is unable to life on her own and has moved out of the house. My Mother is trying to get a quit deed ...

    Carol’s Answer

    Actually, your step-grandmother DOES own an interest in the home - an interest for her life. It is NOT as valuable an interest as a fee simple and so fair market value would take into account the fact that all she could sell of the property would be her interest in it - which expires when she does. For that reason, the fair market value will be small, particularly given her age and infirmity. Additionally, a typical LE will require that the life tenant pay for maintenance, taxes, insurance and upkeep on the home while they are residing in it. If this is the case, then your mother can use the amounts she has spent in that regard to offset the fair market value of the property. As Attorney Davis has explained, most likely Medicaid is part of the issue here and in order to maintain your step-mother's eligibility for services, her interest in the property must be conveyed at fair market value, which can be determined by an appraiser. Just make sure the appraiser is aware that the property interest to be conveyed is a LE, and the age of the determining life (step-grandmother). Good luck.

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  • Is an "Heir Search" company entitled to 20% or ANY money, if not engaged by me?

    2009 - Spouses Aunt died (Florida). Spouse got 1/3 of the estate, after paying a Heir Search firm 20%, (signed an agreement). 2013 Spouse died (Florida) 2015 An IRA of Aunt's was found, and Spouse is entitled to 1/3 of that. Since I am the...

    Carol’s Answer

    I agree with Attorney Pippen. An Heir Search agreement is typically a one-shot deal and does not bind you to this firm for the rest of eternity. They are asking you to sign on again because they want the money - not because it is in your best interests. They owe you NO fiduciary duty. You do not have to sign anything that you do not want to sign. If they had an enforceable agreement - they wouldn't need a second signature. To be certain, you would need to have the agreement signed by your husband reviewed by an attorney. Still, unless it binds the heirs and assigns, you shouldn't owe them anything. Good luck.

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  • Can a PR's attorney choose who to talk with among the beneficiaries?

    The PR for an estate that I am a beneficiary to has an attorney who speaks to, does research for another beneficiary rather then relaying info to that persons attorney. If I want to know anything, I go thu my attorney and of course pay. Can I do a...

    Carol’s Answer

    The attorney for the PR is their attorney only. If this attorney chooses to assist another beneficiary in some manner that is their choice, but is certainly not my recommendation. You don't specifically say what they are advising the other beneficiary on, nor if the PR has waived any potential conflict present in the relationship. MY view is I will not represent two different individuals where there is ANY chance that they may choose to litigate, down the road. If that occurs here, the attorney for the PR would have to withdraw from representing BOTH parties. Have you asked the PR for an explanation? That would be the first place to start.

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  • Would it help to get a real estate/probate lawyer?

    I want to purchase a house that is about to hit probate. The listing realtor states she will continue to hold the listing and be able to sell it vs an auction. What is she specifically allowed to do in this time frame regarding offers and contrac...

    Carol’s Answer

    OK. To answer your first question - you should hire a real estate attorney that is familiar with the probate process. The problem you (and BOTH realtors) are facing is that the owner of the property is DEAD. That officially voids any contract they signed unless there is a specific clause that establishes what happens upon the death of a party. Typically, if you are NOT under contract, then you cannot obtain a purchase agreement because the house is in limbo - titled to a dead person that cannot execute a contract! Not sure what kind of listing agreement the agent claims to have, but once the property transfers to the new owners (aka heirs) they will decide what to do. They may decide to keep the property. Depending on the size of the estate, probate could be long and drawn out. There are other properties on the market. I would suggest you move on.

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  • Hi, my father-in-law died in Florida this past January. He is survived by his second wife and his five adult children.

    The children were told by their father that he set up an annuity for them. The kids are on bad terms with the stepmom. They feel they will be cut out of any inheritance. Is there anyway to view the will and/or force probate?

    Carol’s Answer

    The will should have been filed with the probate court in the county where your father-in-law died within 10 days of his death. If this has not been done, you should have an attorney demand the will be produced. Don't be surprised if the will is "lost". If so, the attorney will need to do a will search (starting with the attorney who may have drafted it). As to the annuity, do they know which company holds the annuity? If so, they will need to contact them and prove the death with a certified death certificate. So long as the children are the named beneficiaries, the annuity should pass by operation of law, outside of probate.

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  • What happens if I refuse to sign a waiver of accounting, portions of petition for discharge and service of petition?

    This is a full waiver and I have not received what is stated in the will.

    Carol’s Answer

    If you believe that you are not getting what you are supposed to, taking into account creditor payouts and taxes on the estate, you SHOULD request a full accounting. Typically, money is not released until and unless a signed release and waiver is received frpm the beneficiary. As otherwise stated, this may slow the process a bit and will cost the estate more money, but it is your right.

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  • How do I set up a trust fund for my 14 year old and my 24 year old

    Can set it up with their life insurance?

    Carol’s Answer

    I am not clear what you mean by "their" life insurance. If you are speaking of life insurance that they will be beneficiaries of when someone else passes, yes, you can do that. Anything, pretty much, can be used to fund a trust for a child. The trust for your 14 year old will not look the same as the trust for the 24 year old. Are either of them disabled? That requires yet another type of trust. You would be surprised at the wide variety of trust instruments there are. Determining the right trust for each child will require sitting down with an estate planning attorney who can determine what your ultimate goal is and then discuss how best to achieve that goal, whether it be for college, or for special needs, or simply because the child or adult may need a spendthrift provision.

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  • My income last year was....$21,184 plus $19,008 Social Scurity. Do I have to pay income tax on my Social Security?

    I am a 101 year old WW2 veteran

    Carol’s Answer

    First off, congratulations and thank you for your service!! Whether or not your Social Security benefits will be taxed as income depends a lot on the type of income you are currently receiving. There are varying rules when dealing with IRAs, 401k plans, and pensions depending on how they were paid for, how long they were held, etc. Your tax professional should be able to better sort out your (potential) tax liability if there is one.

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