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James P. Frederick

James Frederick’s Answers

13,744 total


  • I want to buy a house from someone that keeps changing his mind about selling the house. Today he text me. "Changed my mind "

    Then 2 hours later he tells me he still wants to sell me his house. I was all set with a real estate agent and a title company to write up a purchase agreement when he changed his mind. So called it off. Now he says that he is sure that he wants ...

    James’s Answer

    Once you have a signed purchase agreement, he cannot change his mind without breaching the contract. At that point, your agreement gives you rights as a result of his breach. You may either be able to seek monetary damages or compel specific performance. Given that he apparently has little in the way of money, I would make sure that your contract provides for specific performance. Make sure you discuss this with your realtor, ahead of time.

    James Frederick

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  • Co-trustee&grantor has dementia does the successor trustee step in

    My co trustee has dementia they have successor in place.do they step in now or at death

    James’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    The terms of the trust govern. Normally, there is a provision that once the grantor is deemed to be incapacitated, then the successor trustee takes over. If you are co-trustee, the trust MAY provide that you would be the sole trustee, in that event. Having dementia does not automatically disqualify someone to act as trustee. It depends on the extent of the incapacity. Normally, two physicians would certify that the grantor is no longer capable of handling financial matters, at which point, he or she would be deemed to have resigned as trustee.

    It is a delicate undertaking and should be handled with care.

    James Frederick

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  • At what point do I have to disclose trust info to contingent beneficiaries of an incompetent parents trust as the co-trustee

    I am co-trustee with a parent who is know incompetent and the sole beneficiary of his trust but the contingent beneficiaries want details of the trust. I was under the impression to only disclose info after the death of the grantor.

    James’s Answer

    Contingent beneficiaries are not entitled to anything, at this point. That does not mean you should not communicate, to the extent you can. You also want to make sure you document everything you do and keep very good records. Hiring an attorney might also help give you some peace of mind, as well as providing you a buffer from the beneficiaries.

    James Frederick

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  • Tenant committed suicide, ex-wife now squatting without paying. Eviction posted; but how does his death affect security deposit?

    The tenant's minor-aged child is the apparent sole survivor and still resides in the home with his mother (the ex-wife.) No information about probate known. If the child is residing in the home can I keep the security deposit after eviction toward...

    James’s Answer

    I believe that the correct procedure would be to file a claim against the probate estate. If there IS no probate estate, then as a creditor, you can petition to have one opened. The downside in that is that you would need to pay $150 to open the estate. Another possible issue is that there may be insufficient assets in the estate to justify opening the estate and there may be offsets to your claims. You need to tread very carefully, here, because if you violate the Security Deposit law, you could be found liable for double damages.

    James Frederick

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  • I have a 14 year old nephew who wants to live with me, his mother has mental breakdowns periodically. How do I get gaurdianship

    My sister has said she would consent to temporary guardianship but then she revokes the offer whenever she feels out of control. I can offer my nephew a stable home and a much better education than he has now.

    James’s Answer

    There are at least two ways of doing this. The easiest and least expensive route would be for your sister to sign a Power of Attorney form, delegating her parental authority to you. There would be no need for court or the expenses that go with it. The down side is that your sister could revoke the POA any time she wanted to, putting you back in legal limbo.

    The more permanent solution is to seek guardianship through the probate court. If you live in Dearborn, that would be the Wayne County Probate Court. You would file a Petition for Guardianship. The form is PC651, which you can find, here: http://courts.mi.gov/Administration/SCAO/Forms/courtforms/guardian-conservator/pc651.pdf

    Since your nephew is over 14, he can join in the Petition. Your sister would either need notice of the hearing or she could consent to the Petition. The filing fee for the form is $150. The court would set a hearing date. They might appoint a guardian ad litem to review the circumstances and interview the parties. If so, the GAL would file a report with the judge making recommendations.

    If your sister is agreeable to the proceedings, there probably would not be a problem. If she objects, it might be difficult for you to get appointed. You do not mention your nephew's father. He would need to be notified of the proceedings, as well, and would have an opportunity to consent or object.

    Personally, I would try to avoid the probate court, if you can do so. I would get the POA form and see if that will work for you. If it does, then you can extend the POA every six months until your nephew is 18. If it does not work, you can always use the probate process, if you need to.

    James Frederick

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  • Can I give someone equity in our house for signing a quit claim? Like I give her x amount when the house is sold?

    That's it

    James’s Answer

    I agree with Mr. Sowell. Trying to guess at what might be happening, someone could be loaning you money in exchange for part value in your home? If that is the case, there are better ways to accomplish that, than through a quit claim deed. You may want to consider a lien on the property, as opposed to adding someone to the title of your home. That way, the ownership interest is clear and the lien holder simply is entitled to cash when/if the property is sold.

    Since the answer to all legal questions is highly dependent on the facts of each case, you should not agree to do anything until speaking with your lawyer as to the best way to proceed. You could end up creating far more complexity and expense than is necessary.

    James Frederick

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  • What Are My Options In Probate Court??

    In fall 2011 I was removed from my home I shared with my now deceased partner in Beverly Hills Michigan, by his family members and local police the day after thanksgiving. Because our lives had been intertwined I was not allowed to get all my prop...

    James’s Answer

    In addition to what my colleagues have said, it sounds like your claims are for damage to personal property. You may also be able to make claims for conversion, which could entitle you to treble damages. Your problem is that a lot of time has passed and depending on facts which you have not included, the statute of limitations may have run. You have apparently proceeded thus far without legal counsel. Depending on the value of the items in question, that may have been a wise decision. On the other hand, it sounds like you have had nothing but frustration, thus far. Depending on the value of the items in question and the assets in the estate, it may be time for you to involve legal counsel.

    James Frederick

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  • My mother is in a nursing home has a guardian over financial affairs can she sign a ladybird deed on her house leaving it to me

    she is on medicare. Will this stop the house from being sold after her death? Can this be done without the public guardian? The house is completely paid off. We live in Michigan

    James’s Answer

    Yours is a complex situation and you need an attorney. If your mother has a court-appointed conservator, he or she would be the person to sign a deed. It is very unlikely that he or she would be willing to do this, absent direction from the court. Whether a court would do that is questionable.

    If your mother is on MediCAID, then the time for getting the deed has likely passed. If you were to try to do so, now, the State could challenge this on the basis of a fraudulent conveyance. You need expert legal advice before you proceed, at this point.

    James Frederick

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  • Does a quit claim deed go into effect the date it's signed, or on the date it's filed with the ROD? It was signed in July 2012.

    Dad has Alzheimer's, and is on a waiting list for an assisted living home. He owns his home and the house and property where he was raised. He signed the QC deeds, listing me and my sisters as grantees, in July of 2012. They haven't been filed w...

    James’s Answer

    You are in a gray area. The deed is effective when signed, but the State may have an argument that since it was not recorded, it was not "delivered" during lifetime. Depending on how the deed was set up, you may be better off recording it, now, to avoid that argument. I would have it reviewed by an estate planning attorney, before you do so, however.

    James Frederick

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  • If a sibling has their name on our mom's house, property and bank accounts and there is no will, is the sibling entitled to all

    My 85 year old mother passed away in April and my father 22 years prior. My 55 year old sister resided with my mother and father her entire life. Another sibling and myself both married and both have children. The last three years "Mom" had been s...

    James’s Answer

    I agree with my colleagues, but there really are not enough facts included to answer your questions. The first question is how the assets are titled and the next issue is how it got to be that way. If the transfers and/or beneficiary designations were made by your mother while she had capacity to do so and there was no undue influence by your sister, then you have a VERY difficult case. If the changes were made by your sister, while acting for your mother under a durable power of attorney form, then you have a very good chance of setting them aside. If the changes were made under any other circumstances, it depends on the facts.

    In any situation, the best way to determine where you stand is to meet with a probate attorney and share all of the facts.

    James Frederick

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