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James P. Frederick

James Frederick’s Answers

13,651 total


  • My ex husbands mother died am i entitled to anything she left to him

    my husbands mother died while we were still married am I entitled to anything she left him

    James’s Answer

    It depends on facts that you have not stated. Generally, inheritances are treated as separate property and not marital property. On the other hand, most divorces are settled and not tried. If you have/had a good divorce lawyer, he or she would have pursued a claim on your behalf, with regard to such assets.

    James Frederick

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  • Is the lawyer obligated to obtain information for proper division of assets. Am I entitled to a portion of inheritance

    I informed my lawyer of the banks and credit unions where my ex husband had accounts and they did not get the account information so I could get my portion of the savings he also obtained vehicles and new accounts while we were married .

    James’s Answer

    There are too many facts left unstated to give you much guidance, as Mr. Carrier noted. How assets were titled and whether or not there were any estate planning documents will determine who is entitled to those assets. Is there a personal representative appointed for the estate? Since you appear to have a lawyer, that is where you should direct your questions. If you think you may have a claim against some of your ex-husband's assets, you will likely need to make a claim against the estate. Your lawyer will know how to do this for you.

    James Frederick

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  • Can a joint tenancy with rights of survivorship be contested in probate?

    Prior to my father's death, the family farm was removed from his trust. He had dementia, and was being taken care of by my sister. A joint tenancy with rights of survivorship was set up in his and my sister's name. My sister claims this was his wa...

    James’s Answer

    As with any other estate planning, it is possible to contest a deed. This would normally be done through probate. You would contest on the basis that either your father lacked capacity to understand what he was doing, due to his dementia, or that your sister exerted undue influence on him. The facts will dictate the outcome of your case. If there was a lawyer that assisted your father/sister in preparing the deed, he or she would likely testify on behalf of your sister. That might make your case much tougher. If there were medical records showing that at the time the deed was executed, your father could not have understood what he was doing, that would certainly help your cause.

    These are very difficult cases and you will need to retain a very skilled probate litigation attorney to assist you with this.

    You are in the best position to judge whether or not the deed was a reflection of your father's true wishes and intent. If you feel that it was, then you should support your sister.

    James Frederick

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  • Family Fued :(

    My father passed away last year and left the house with 6 acres to me, and 21acres to my sister. Which she is the type of person, that everything is hers and she should get everything for free. My dad had sold my sister a few acres for a couple hu...

    James’s Answer

    This is not a probate question. It is a real estate question. Rather than speculate at this point, you may simply want to wait to see if your sister even raises an issue. If she does not, then it is not worth worrying about. It is likely that she will rely on the established property lines. If she decides to make an issue of this, then you should consult with a real estate attorney to determine how to proceed.

    James Frederick

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  • Can a joint tenancy with rights of survivorship be set up with a property that is part of a living trust?

    Our family farm is under a living trust's name. Can a joint tenancy with rights of survivorship be set up in a way that effects division of the estate? We'd like to avoid re-doing the trust.

    James’s Answer

    I agree with Attorney Wilton. The better and more common way to handle this would be through an amendment to the trust that provides for the kind of distribution you want, in the event of the death of one of the beneficiaries. Note too, that you can change the trust as many times as you like. In Michigan, once a property is held as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, it cannot be partitioned and the only way to convey it would be if all joint tenants consent and agree.

    James Frederick

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  • In the state of Michigan what is the correct process to sell a home that was left to an estate?

    The home is paid for and it was not left to anyone in my mothers will. I have two other siblings and my brother is the executor of the estate and I had sent a letter to the estate attorney advising that I wanted to buy my mothers home. We had a me...

    James’s Answer

    I agree with my colleagues. Your lawyer should petition the court for direction. If you are willing to pay more for the home than your brother is, then he cannot buy it. As has been pointed out, he has a duty to the beneficiaries to maximize the value of the estate. His purchasing the home for a lower price would be considered self-dealing, and a breach of fiduciary duty. Since you have a lawyer, that is the person who needs to take action on your behalf.

    As far as the personal items, there are a number of ways of dealing with those. Your brother has the same duties with regard to those items as with everything else. He cannot simply take them as his own.

    James Frederick

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  • One error on Will, I have asked the courts and they said it doesnt affect anything but would like to hear it from a laywer.

    My grandfather passed away in march, He signed his will 8 hours before he passed because he was failing quickly. His name is stated threw out the will correctly but at the very bottom it looks to be someone else's name. I just noticed it today and...

    James’s Answer

    I agree with Ms. Radadia, but much more information is needed. What are the assets in the estate? Are the assets in excess of $22k? Do you need to open an estate at all?

    As for the Will, what you have sounds like it would probably be classified as a "scrivener's error." If that is the case, it would not affect the validity of the Will. There is a chance, however, that the court would want you to use formal proceedings, instead of informal. What that means practically, is that there would be a hearing for the judge to admit the Will. The lawyer who drafted the Will should make this right for you.

    As you say, there is no way to correct it, now, so you need to file it, either way. If the estate is less than $22k, then probate may not be necessary.

    James Frederick

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  • As executor of an estate, can I be reimbursed for mileage and travel time? There is 2 1/2 hours travel time?

    I had had to clean out a house for sale. The lawyer says I can only be reimbursed for mileage not time to drive to the home. Driving from Grand Rapids, MI to Lansing. I feel I should be compensated for my time driving back and forth. This is t...

    James’s Answer

    It appears that you have a lawyer and that you should rely on that lawyer for advice. The mileage reimbursement is easy. In terms of compensation, anything that is paid to you as compensation is taxable income to you. If you were to receive it as part of your inheritance, there is no tax. So depending on whether you are an heir/beneficiary of the estate and depending on the number of other beneficiaries, there may be little financial incentive for you to seek compensation for your drive time or any other time spent working on the estate.

    Your lawyer likely has insight into how the probate judge in your county handles compensation issues. If he/she has indicated that it is not compensable, it may be that is the reason why.

    James Frederick

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  • Can my atty. Motion the court to release $ I have in trust. From a settlement that was a two part law suit. 2 case was dismiss .

    Auto accident in Ohio u live in mich. Atty in Ohio for personal injuries. Case in mich. Atty sue for loss wages and medical bills. Mich won hold money for out come of other case. Atty in Ohio loss case judge dismiss it. Now suing for malpractice. ...

    James’s Answer

    I agree with my colleagues. As you can see from the variety of responses, we are all kind of speculating as to what may be going on with your situation. You reference your attorney. That person has all of the facts of your situation that we do not have. That attorney is the person you should be directing your questions to. If you are not satisfied with the response you are getting, you should meet with a new attorney and share all relevant facts with him or her to determine how best to proceed.

    James Frederick

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  • I want to make sure that I finalize and close the intestate unsupervised probate estate of my mom's correctly and efficiently.

    Assets include cottage appraised at 15,000 with 10,000 mortgage, net 5,000 value and car value 1,780. Debts not paid 3,000 visa, 200 c card and 200 hospital bill, 2 other utility bills about 500. I have paid all administrative costs including he...

    James’s Answer

    Your situation is not entirely clear. I am uncertain why you would have opened an estate at all, under the circumstances you describe. A small estate proceeding would seem to have made more sense. It would also have cost you a lot less to handle it that way. I assume that you have gotten this far without legal advice.

    If the creditor HAS filed a claim, then you can send them a form PC 580, Disallowance of Claim, which you can find, here:
    http://courts.mi.gov/Administration/SCAO/Forms/courtforms/probate/pc580.pdf

    If they have not filed a claim, then the form does not really apply. In that case, I would send a letter indicating that, "Creditor claims are not being paid, due to the fact that the estate is insolvent." I would send this to all known creditors. If they are intent on trying to pursue an action, you want to know about that now, so you can defend against it and get the debt extinguished.

    Of course, you will need to continue to pay the mortgage. Unlike other creditors, their interest is secured, and they could foreclose on the cottage, if the mortgage is not kept current. The unsecured creditors are out of luck.

    If the creditors have not filed a claim against the estate, it is technically barred, at this point. I would still send a letter to each creditor you are aware of.

    James Frederick

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