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James P. Frederick

James Frederick’s Answers

13,739 total


  • My father owned land, he passed and there are three children, 2 of us want to sell it but one doesn't, what do i do?

    we are all three on the deed of the land. However, i was part owner of the land before my father had passed.

    James’s Answer

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    If the one who does not want to sell is in a position to buy out the other two, that is by far the best way to go. Presumably, that is not the case, here. If you cannot persuade your sibling to agree with you, you may be forced into a partition action. The court would order that the property be sold or that your sibling buy you out. This is litigation, and you should at least consult with an attorney on this. It is also likely to impact your future relationship with your sibling. So I would not take that step lightly. But it may be your only real recourse, if your sibling is unable or unwilling to buy you out.

    James Frederick

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  • My wife died, and my adult step children said they'd be in charge of funeral arrangements. Now they won't pay the bill. Do I?

    My wife of 10 years recently died, and my 2 adult step children have never liked me. They left me out of health care decisions while she was alive (even though I paid the bills), and now they won't "allow" me to participate in her funeral service...

    James’s Answer

    I agree with Attorneys Cottrell and Smith. If there is an estate, the estate would be responsible for covering the cost of the funeral. You would have no responsibility whatsoever. The fact that you were not allowed to participate makes your decision much easier from a moral/ethical standpoint, as well. The kids ARE liable for this and it would appear they will need to figure out a way to take care of it.

    I am very sorry for your loss and the ugliness that occurred thereafter. Shame on them.

    James Frederick

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  • The Life insurance policies were naming me as sole beneficiary. Do I have to give that to the Estate?

    The representative of the estate says I have to, or she will just take it from my share of the estate.

    James’s Answer

    I agree with my colleagues, but trying to read between the lines, here, my GUESS is that the PR is trying to get some of the administrative expenses, (such as funeral expenses), paid for. Those come right off the top of the estate. So if you do not agree to pay for those out of the insurance or other funds, then she would be completely right in what she has told you.

    Cases like this always turn on the facts, however, and you have not shared enough information for anyone to really provide you with an answer you can rely on. If you are not sure how to proceed, your best bet is to contact your own probate lawyer to assist you with this.

    James Frederick

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  • Any legal issue with cash purchasing a home & reselling it to son on land contract? He'll make 10% down payment &pay 5% interest

    Contract will be recorded with county. I'm buying property under LLC.

    James’s Answer

    It is hard to say for sure without being able to review YOUR contracts. The elephant in the room issue is what do you do if your son is unable to pay? Do you foreclose on him and kick him out? Would you be able to do that? It could put a lot of pressure on your relationship if he ever runs into financial difficulty and is unable to pay.

    There are also some property tax and insurance issues. If you are living at the property and using it as your residence, it would be "owner occupied" property, which is easy to insure and for which you can get a homestead exemption so the property will be taxed at a lower rate. If you sell it to your son, you would need to insure it using "landlord/tenant" coverage, which is more expensive. Your son may be able to use the homestead exemption. If he cannot, the property would be taxed at a higher rate.

    Otherwise, make sure that you complete the proper documents to protect your rights and effectively place your interest in the chain of title.

    James Frederick

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  • I have a sister who was named representative in my dads will. She says she can change the Will to anything she decides.

    The will states that he specifically gives all his tools to his two sons. My father had a mini tool and die shop in his pole barn, and tools in the garage and shed. The sister says we have to pay the Market price on every tool we get. How can she ...

    James’s Answer

    Your sister cannot "change the Will." She is constrained by the terms of the Will and must honor them, as Personal Representative. Having said that, many times the Will provides the PR a wide degree of latitude in how the terms are to be interpreted and carried out. It is possible that your sister simply wants to impress you with the fact that she is in charge. It is also possible that she has no clue what she is doing or what she is talking about. For that reason, your sister should have an attorney to assist her in administering the estate.

    No one can tell you what your rights are under the Will without actually reading the Will. You are entitled to a copy of the Will and if you believe your rights are being trampled, then you owe it to yourself to seek your only legal advice. You should not rely on your sister for legal advice, in this matter.

    James Frederick

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  • Are jointly owned assets to be listed on probate inventory form in Michigan? i.e. house, bank accounts, cars.

    If car has lien on it and it was purchased solely in late spouse's name should it be listed.

    James’s Answer

    I agree with my colleagues. Your precise situation is unclear from the limited facts provided. Normally, joint assets are not part of a probate estate. Liens are not relevant in terms of the inventory, except for real property. You need to list the gross value for all other assets. Wayne County Probate verifies the value of real estate. They do not verify the value of other assets.

    James Frederick

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  • My dad past may 1st but there is no will but 2 estates

    his wife past in march, doesn't everything go to my dad estate? Now the estate is be split twice between all 9 kids of hers and thiers, the dads is going to be split between 6 of us that are his hers by marriage. this in ky and we really can't ...

    James’s Answer

    I agree with my colleagues. This is a Kentucky probate matter and you may want to re-post your summary using a Kentucky location, so Kentucky lawyers will actually see it and respond. Your situation is complex, however, and it may be more complex depending on the existence or absence of estate planning, as well as the title of the assets. Anything jointly held by your father and stepmother would have been his upon her death. What happens from that point on depends on Kentucky law. If the assets were not joint, different rules apply. You really need some guidance from a Kentucky lawyer. If there is not enough value in the estate to justify a lawyer, you will probably lose out on your interest or at least a good chunk of it.

    James Frederick

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  • Trust, property insurance

    Mom has died, left everything in a Trust. There are two siblings w/ one as the Trustee. 1) She was owner of a small boat. Insurance came due, & the Trustee renewed it w/ her name still on it. was this correct? 2) Mom's c...

    James’s Answer

    Your questions cannot be answered fully with the facts provided. While it is probable that it was okay to have the trustee insure the vehicle, this would not be proper if the vehicle passed outside of the trust, directly to a joint owner or beneficiary. Being signers on an account may or may not give you any rights following your mother's death. Is the bank aware that your mom has died? How is the account titled? In terms of termination of the trust, there may be administrative tasks that are required, first. Normally, you would publish a notice to creditors to dramatically shorten the statute of limitations for creditor claims. That gives creditors 4 months to present a claim against the trust. There may also be tax or other obligations that need to be taken care of before the trust can be closed.

    You should work with your sibling to do what you can to help expedite matters. If your sibling does not have an attorney, he or she should strongly consider at least consulting with one, before things are wrapped up.

    James Frederick

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  • How do II fill out pc 577 and pc 564 as required by Wayne County Probate Court?

    I wanted access to my late husband's safe deposit box. I was appointed personal representative by Wayne County. They sent me pc 577 & pc 564. How do I fill out these forms? We have no children. His mother is still alive. Since I am the surviving s...

    James’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Your questions cannot be answered with the limited facts provided. Were there any assets in the estate at all? If there were no valuables in the safe deposit box, then you would complete the inventory with a value of $0. If there were any assets in your husband's name alone, without a beneficiary designated, then you would need to report them to the court. Your mother-in-law would be considered an interested party in connection with the estate, at least initially. You would be entitled to the lion's share of the assets, but it is not clear there are any assets, to begin with.

    It would be best if you at least sit down with an attorney to review the probate process and determine what you need to do, at this point. As a poor substitute for meeting with an attorney, many probate lawyers have a description of the probate process on their websites. The Oakland County Probate Court also has a brochure posted on ITS website, that describes the process in general terms. (The process is the same as for Wayne County, for your purposes).

    James Frederick

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  • Probate/estate

    who is at fault when a will is produced by an attorney in probate and the inventory is not verified with investment amounts, now the directives of will can not be carried out. Attorney did not verify payees of stocks.

    James’s Answer

    I am sorry but your question is difficult to understand. The attorney normally has nothing to do with non-probate assets. It sounds like these assets had beneficiaries designated, meaning they were not part of the estate at all. That is not the attorney's fault. It is the decedent's fault. It is VERY common for someone to make out a Will providing for a certain distribution of the estate and then structuring their assets in such a way that it totally defeats their supposed intent. It happens ALL the time. The Will does not apply to such assets, except in VERY unusual circumstances.

    The attorney normally has nothing to do with designating beneficiaries on assets. The attorney prepares the estate planning documents and then the client does whatever he or she wants to do, almost always without the knowledge or guidance of the attorney.

    There is Michigan caselaw that excuses the attorney from liability in cases like this. Of course, there can always be a certain set of facts which might provide a basis for liability. For that reason, you should consult with an attorney of your own to determine if there is any possibility of recovery.

    In most counties, even the probate court does not verify the values of assets listed on the inventory.

    Finally, if the beneficiaries of the non-probate assets are willing, they can choose to honor the wishes of the decedent, in spite of the fact that the titles were not properly set up.

    James Frederick

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