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James P. Frederick

James Frederick’s Answers

13,714 total


  • Does my Mother have an legal right to her married son's medical treatments?

    My brother is currently in a vegative state, unable to make any decisions. His wife is not honoring his spoken not written wishes. Does his family (my self, his twin sister & Mom) have any legal rights & say over his medical treatments? What paper...

    James’s Answer

    I agree with Attorney Brent. These are always very difficult cases. It is not clear from your summary whether your brother has any written estate planning in place or not. If he does not, your only real recourse is to go to the probate court. In a case where it is parent/siblings vs. the spouse, the court is most likely to side with the spouse, in my opinion. But all cases turn on the facts. It is also possible that in the event of a family feud, the judge may appoint a public administrator to act on behalf of your brother. This may or may not get you what you need.

    It is always best for the family to try to sort these issues out amongst themselves. If that cannot be done, your best bet is to have a probate attorney submit a Petition for Guardianship. The filing fee will be $150. The court will appoint a Guardian ad litem to review the circumstances.

    I wish you and your family the best of luck as you deal with these matters.

    James Frederick

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  • What's the process in getting a will?

    I'm a single mom, and I want to make sure my daughter goes to my older sister, if something bad happens to me.

    James’s Answer

    I agree with my colleagues. I write to add that, if you have any financial resources at all, it makes sense to protect your daughter with a revocable ("living") trust. You do not mention your daughter's father, but he would generally be first in line to handle the finances, if you were to pass away. In the absence of a trust, the probate court would establish a conservatorship estate for your daughter and the assets would all be turned over to her in a lump sum, when she turns 18. For most people, this is not a good arrangement. A trust not only allows YOU to select the person in charge of managing the assets, but it also allows you to stagger the distribution of assets until such time as your daughter is better able to manage receiving her inheritance.

    James Frederick

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  • I'm trying locate the lawyer near Sandy Springs Georgia who prepared my brother's estate plan. The PR will not file the will.

    He died in 2014 and we have

    James’s Answer

    I agree with my colleagues. To follow up on Mr. Burkert's suggestion, when you search for a lawyer, enter "estate planning" and the city and state. You may need to broaden your geographical area a bit, but that should give you a decent list of lawyers to call who do estate planning work in that area.

    One question you MAY want to consider is whether you think it will make a difference. In other words, in many cases, the Wills that people leave behind provide for those persons who would receive the estate under the intestate code, if a Will did not exist. Who are your brother's "next of kin?" Who is the PR?

    One option may be to open the estate, as if there is no Will. If there is one, it will force the nominated PR to come forward with the Will. That seems to be the majority of your goal at this point.

    James Frederick

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  • I have someone who wants me to buy his house in cash.

    He is willing to give me great deal. He does not have a warranty deed he has a quit claim deed. Can I do a title search and find out if there are any leans? He wants to do this fast. Can I have him sign over the deed to me and exchange the money ...

    James’s Answer

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    Be careful. He cannot "sign over" the deed to you. He would need to draw up an entirely new deed. The fact that HE had a quit claim deed is not necessarily an issue, although you certainly want to run a title search. I would have HIM provide title insurance for you. He would need to do that if you had a conventional deal. YOU want to get a warranty deed. You want him to warrant that he has clear title. Yes, you can search for liens online yourself. But I would want a title company to sign off on it for me, if I was buying it. You may find that he owes more than $320 in taxes. You want to know that going in. It also would be a good idea to involve an attorney to prepare the purchase agreement. The fact that "he want to do this fast," is kind of a red flag. You are not buying a $100 clunker. This is a serious investment. You need to make sure it is a good one before you jump.

    James Frederick

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  • Letter of authority/ what is required to obtain/what is the cost?

    My brother died suddenly. He had no will, no property, no assets except a small bank account, less than 2k. The bank wants a letter of authority. What are the costs. Do I need a attorney? Is there a court in Livonia that handles this or do I have ...

    James’s Answer

    If that account is the only asset in your brother's name, then you should not need Letters of Authority. There are small estate proceedings that would make far more sense. The administrative expenses of obtaining Letters of Authority would cost more than the value of the account. The small estate proceedings would be far more cost effective.

    You should google "affidavit of decedent's successor" to see the form you will need.

    James Frederick

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  • What kind of lawyer do I need?

    My mother passed away last year. I am 1 of 5 children. When she passed she left behind a vehicle and RV camper, my mother's boyfriend took all my mom's property and sold her vehicle, even though it was titled in her name, and so is the RV, is this...

    James’s Answer

    I agree with Mr. Townley that you should start with a probate lawyer. The lawyer can help you investigate how the vehicle was titled and how it was transferred. It sounds like this could possibly be a case of conversion. It is possible to seek triple damages in conversion cases. Whether that makes sense in your case depends on a lot of facts. The lawyer can help you decide how best to proceed.

    I am very sorry for your loss.

    James Frederick

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  • Filing for Letters of Authority

    Mom passed away. There was a small Trust & Will. There are two siblings. One is Trustee, other is PR. All assets have been accounted for. Mom has a Bond Fund. The Trustee is trying to close the account. Has submitted all the necessary p...

    James’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    You cannot get Letters of Authority without going through probate. Whether or not probate is needed depends on the title of the asset and the amount. If it is worth less than $22k, in Michigan, you can use small estate procedures, some of which does not involve the court, at all. You can check some of the County Probate Court websites or many attorney websites for information on what is involved in probate. It is not rocket science, but it can be frustrating, if you have never handled an estate before. Since it is clear that your mom was trying to avoid probate by setting up the trust, I would visit with a probate attorney before deciding how to proceed. Jim Wald is a good probate attorney in your area. You can find his contact information through Avvo.

    James Frederick

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  • Quick settlement of estate, access to bank account

    Mother, resident of Macomb County, whose husband is deceased, just died of natural causes, no will. There are two adult children who are in agreement as to everything. We want to pay for a funeral, and split up whatever is left. We will need acce...

    James’s Answer

    Probate will be necessary. There are some "how to" pamphlets that you can find at some of the probate court websites. Oakland County has some pretty good ones. You will not need to appear in court if you do it properly. It is a six month process, provided the house can be sold quickly. Most lawyers charge on either a flat fee basis or an hourly basis for probate. Most do not charge for an initial consultation. That will give the lawyer a better idea what is involved in your situation and you can ask any questions you may have before deciding whether or not to retain the lawyer.

    It is not impossible to do on your own, but it can be very frustrating to try. In most cases, it is not as expensive to use an attorney as people expect.

    James Frederick

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  • How do I get guardianship of my disabled adult brother??

    He's mentally challenged and now quite physically challenged.

    James’s Answer

    This can only be done through the probate court. You would file a petition with the probate court. The court will set a hearing date. They will also assign a "guardian ad litem" (generally a court appointed attorney) who will investigate the facts, interview your brother and make a recommendation to the judge. You will need to serve notice on all interested parties which would include your parents, (if they are still alive), any other siblings, and your brother's spouse and/or children, if any.

    You can find the petition form, here: http://courts.mi.gov/Administration/SCAO/Forms/Pages/Guardian.aspx
    You would use form PC625 if your brother was previously fine and then became incapacitated, or form pc658, if your brother was always developmentally disabled. There will be a $150 filing fee for the Petition.

    You do not absolutely need an attorney for guardianship matters, but it may be helpful to have one, particularly if there is anything out of the ordinary about your situation.

    James Frederick

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  • Wife has been given a key to a safety deposit box and was told to get the large sum of cash to of the box when her relative die

    what legal issues can derive from this

    James’s Answer

    This is not the way to handle this situation, UNLESS your wife is also a joint owner on the account. If she is listed as a joint owner, the presumption is that the contents are hers, as much as the other relative's. If she is not listed as a joint owner on the account, the key will not help her. She would need to get permission from the probate court to access the account and she would be unable to do anything with the contents, other than to search for a Will or the deed to a burial plot.

    The relative should visit with an estate planning attorney to make sure things are set up properly.

    James Frederick

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