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James P. Frederick

James Frederick’s Answers

13,714 total


  • 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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  • Did I commit an illegal act?

    I was a care taker for an elderly woman who gave me money on numerous occasions.She would tell me this is because I like you. My son birthday she gave me 400 dollars and told me to give him a nice party .I would tell her no sometimes and she would...

    James’s Answer

    Did you commit an illegal act? It does not sound like you did anything wrong. Could a court find that you took advantage of an incapacitated person? Given the right set of facts, that is within the realm of possibility. If you are accused of this, you would need to defend yourself. That means retaining a good probate litigation attorney. The amount of money involved would help you in a cost benefit analysis as to whether or not this is worth messing around with.

    James Frederick

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  • What can happen to a lawyer if they do not inform a party with notification from the court of an upcoming court date?

    There are 4 sisters involved. My youngest and oldest sister are the parties of these problems. For the last 3 years she has been taking me to court over my mothers estate. She is extremely upset because my parents put me in charge of the estate...

    James’s Answer

    I agree with my colleagues and I would simply add that most JUDGES would not tolerate lack of notice, either. In my experience, if there is no notice given, then judge does not even allow the hearing to take place. If a lawyer lied about giving notice, he or she could be sanctioned by the court or by the State Bar. No lawyer I know would risk his or her license in order to try to help a client do something illegal. It is not worth it. I will say that if you are represented by a lawyer, that notice to the lawyer can be construed to be notice to you.

    The probate file is a part of the public record. You can obtain copies of the documents that were filed with the court and if you are interested in pursuing this further, you can check to see what address the lawyer was using and who exactly was being served notice of the hearings. That may help to explain what has taken place.

    James Frederick

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  • How do I get my child back in my custody that is under guardianship of her aunt and uncle?

    This was a cps case and guardianship was awarded to aunt and uncle so case could be closed. I'm a alcoholic in recovery for quite some time now and I am ready to have my daughter full time. I have a very stable home and live a healthy lifestyle. I...

    James’s Answer

    I agree with Mr. Lambert. The only way to change guardianship is through the probate court. The courts and Michigan law are set up to favor parents, all other things being equal. There are extenuating circumstances, here, though, so the judge will be very cautious. Having an attorney on your side could be very helpful. Specifically, to get the ball rolling, you would need to file a Petition to Modify/Terminate Guardianship, which is form PC675, which you can find, here: http://courts.mi.gov/Administration/SCAO/Forms/courtforms/guardian-conservator/pc675.pdf

    If your daughter is over 14, she will also be able to state a preference. If she is less than that, the judge may still want to talk to her or have a guardian ad litem do so.

    Best of luck to you on this matter and continued best wishes on the positive changes that you have made in your life!

    James Frederick

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  • How do I gain legal ownership for unused family cemetery plots without a probate file?

    Have original deed for family cemetery lots in local private cemetery located in MI that belonged to my grandfather. He is the legal owner and died in 1967 and is buried there. His wife was also buried there in 1970 after his death. There are stil...

    James’s Answer

    Tracking down the other heirs is probably not that difficult. Determining who the heirs are may be somewhat more problematic. You certainly do not want to go through probate, if you can avoid it. There are small estate processes that probably are available, but if there are other heirs at the same level as you are, then they would have a say. Your best bet is to contact them and make arrangements for them to sign off on small estate procedures to get the plots retitled in your name. If that can be done, the cost would be very nominal and you would not need to involve the court, at all.

    James Frederick

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  • Landlord has requested his apt back for renovation, but the landlord was called for verification he said that I was "Evicted"?

    I left over 1 year ago, and did notified landlord of my new address P.O.BOX for 3 months that I had, but I did not received any correspondence from him. I did notify him within 7 days after I left. The landlord kept my 1/2 Rent as security, and ca...

    James’s Answer

    It is not clear what you are trying to accomplish or what difference it makes at this point whether you were evicted or you left of your own accord. If you can explain what you are seeking help with, we might be able to provide you with more information.

    James Frederick

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