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James P. Frederick

James Frederick’s Answers

13,746 total


  • Can the Representative sign off an insurance claim without the Siblings approval?

    Sister named Representative signed insurance claim that was worth 250 thousand for 130 thousand settlement, without siblings approval or using the option of rebuilding the house. She also settled for 37 thousand on contents which was insured for ...

    James’s Answer

    The personal representative has legal authority to do what you describe and is not required to get anyone's consent or prior approval. Having said that, the PR is a fiduciary and is required to act in the best interest of the estate and it's beneficiaries. She can be held personally liable for failure to do so. So actions like those you describe would only be done after careful consideration of all facts, as well as legal advice from her attorney. If this was NOT done, then your recourse is through the probate court.

    James Frederick

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  • What can I do to reverse my mothers temporary guardianship over my 16 year old son?

    I found out that my mother has had temporary guardianship over my son for several years now. I also found out that she has been telling the probate court that she doesn't know my whereabouts to send me a notice to appear because she knows I will s...

    James’s Answer

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    The first question is whether you SHOULD reverse this. Your son has been living with your mother for "several years." While the courts and the laws in Michigan are designed to favor the biological parents and to reunite families, that is not always what is best for the child. Given the significant change that would be required for your son, you should first consider whether it is in his best interest for you to fight your mom in court.

    If you determine that it is, you can file a Petition to Terminate or Modify Guardianship. The court will set a hearing date. It will also likely appoint a guardian ad litem, (who is an attorney), to go out and interview all of the parties and then make a recommendation to the judge. Because your son is over 14, he will also have a say in what his preference is. You chances of success would be dramatically improved by having the assistance of an attorney.

    A less contentious alternative might be to initiate communication with your mother and make arrangements to spend some time with him, getting reacquainted with him. Over time, it is possible that this would give you the vast majority of what you are seeking, without the legal battle.

    James Frederick

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  • Can I be charged a transfer fee after my original lease ends?

    My lease is ending next month and I want to move to a one bedroom because the rent is going up and I prefer to stay in my financial comfort zone. I asked my leasing office if I could renew for a 1-bdrm and she said there would be a $400 transfer f...

    James’s Answer

    I agree with you that this makes no sense. I would review your lease and if it is not clear, have a lawyer review it. My GUESS is that there may be a transfer fee if you move during the term of the lease. That makes some sense, because the landlord would then need to re-lease your current unit. If your lease is up, there would be no difference between you and someone new coming in to lease the new unit. There is no justification to charge a transfer fee for this kind of situation. If the landlord does not bend on this, I would suggest that you will rent elsewhere.

    James Frederick

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  • To sell the family home of a deceased owner, (with no will) do the children need a real estate atty, or a probate atty?

    The surviving children (all in their 70's+) have agreed verbally to allow the only one still living in the home, to put it in her name. (that hasn't happened yet, officially though) The city wants to buy this home, because they are going to take o...

    James’s Answer

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    I agree with Attorney Czeizler. You need a probate attorney who can help you deal with this situation. It sounds like the children, other than the one, are interested in disclaiming their interests in the estate. If that is the case, the probate should be relatively inexpensive. Depending on facts not stated, including the SEV of the property and administrative expenses that have been paid, (such as funeral and cemetery expenses, you may qualify for small estate proceedings. That would reduce the costs even more.

    James Frederick

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  • Sister is dpoa for mother & just filed 1st accounting as a interested person my right to review proofs of income and payments

    when I review records what are my rights? can I make copies? and what if I find something I disagree with or question. and how long do I have to file a written objection?

    James’s Answer

    I agree with Mr. Baran. A DPOA normally does not involve court filings, at all. If she is providing you with accounts, and there is no court filing, you are not generally an "interested party." Your mother would be entitled to accounts and would have the right to object to your sister's actions. If your mother is incapacitated and you believe that your sister is acting improperly, you can report it to Adult Protective Services. I would want some pretty strong evidence of impropriety before going to that length, however, as it will certainly affect your ongoing relationship with your sister and/or mother.

    If the court is not involved, there is no one else to file an objection with, at this point.

    If your sister is acting as court appointed conservator and not under the DPOA, then she needs to have her accounts allowed by the court, each year. If that is your case, you CAN object, either in writing, or at the hearing on the account. It would be a good idea to review everything with a probate attorney before taking that action, however. That is especially true if your sister has an attorney representing her. If she does NOT have an attorney representing her, then she should have.

    James Frederick

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  • Do I need an attorney when I mistakenly opened an estate that has no assets to probate? Or can I fill out the paperwork myself?

    I made a mistake in the paperwork and opened a probate case in April. I thought I was just getting authorization to open my husband's safe deposit box. I didn't realize all my duties until I received paperwork requesting estate inventory and pro...

    James’s Answer

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    You need to file an inventory. I would file the form showing $0 in assets. You would then be able to file a Sworn Statement to Close the estate with summary proceedings. The form is PC590, which you can find, here: http://courts.mi.gov/Administration/SCAO/Forms/courtforms/estatestrusts/pc590.pdf

    I would not worry about publishing for creditors. You will not have the advantage of a shorter statute of limitations, but if there are no assets, the creditors are out of luck, anyway. It is a question of no harm, no foul, I would think. As far as the Proof of Service, the court would rely on your initial application/petition, in terms of who the interested parties are. Technically, your mother-in-law would be considered an heir and would be an interested party of the estate. She should have gotten a copy of the initial documents, as well as the inventory and closing statement. Since there are no assets, this is also less critical.

    Your experience is not unusual. I do not see any problems as long as you file the inventory and closing statement in a timely manner.

    James Frederick

    P.S. There will be a $5 charge for the inventory, in spite of the facts there are no assets. This is a mandatory minimum fee.

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  • I rent. I have a lease. Can the landlord sell the house b/4 the lease is up? Do I have to let people in to look at it?

    My lease is up in February. A real estate agent is coming to talk with me tonight. I work nights and I really don't want people coming in my house during the day when I am sleeping or have to get woken up. Can they show the house while the lease...

    James’s Answer

    This is totally governed by your lease. It is VERY common for leases to include language that would permit what the landlord is asking for. It is almost always the case that the landlord can sell the property, in spite of the lease. The new purchaser would take, subject to your rights as a tenant. Whether or not they have the right to show it and or force you to cooperate is the uncertain part. If you are sure that your lease does not allow them to do this, you can hold your ground. If you are not certain about this, then you should review the lease with a lawyer to determine your rights. If you can cooperate without it affecting you in a major detrimental way, then it may benefit you, because if there is a new owner/landlord, you will be seen as a good cooperative tenant. That may benefit you in a number of ways, in the future.

    James Frederick

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  • 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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