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James P. Frederick

James Frederick’s Answers

13,917 total


  • Do brother and I have any rights or worth fighting against dads widow if he had no will (MI) (belongings, heirlooms, and deed)

    When my parents were still married, they built a 'vacation cabin' in the U.P of Michigan together. They divorced years later, and in the settlement, my mom paid off the entire property and signed a quit claim -making my dad the sole name now on t...

    James’s Answer

    I am very sorry for your loss and the situation you now find yourself in.

    Under Michigan law, in the absence of a Will, all of the assets titled in your father's name alone pass under "intestacy law." With allowances and exemptions, your step-mother can claim roughly the first $200k in assets and you and your brother would be entitled to half of whatever is left over. She would receive the other half. So depending on the value of the assets in the estate, you may be entitled to some portion of it.

    Once probate is started, your rights will become much clearer. At that time, if you have questions or concerns, you should consult with a probate lawyer. If your step-mother does not open an estate, you can do so, yourself. You would not want to do this unless you are confident that there are assets in excess of $200k in the estate.

    This situation clearly highlights the need for timely estate planning. Had your father done this, he could have protected all of the items mentioned in your summary for you and your brother.

    James Frederick

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  • POA

    Does a POA for real estate and financial purposes need to be noticed or signed by an attorney in the state of Michigan?

    James’s Answer

    I agree with Mr. Klisz. I would add that it is becoming increasingly common for banks and other financial institutions to refuse to accept documents that are not prepared by and executed in the presence of an attorney. This is because elder abuse is very widespread and there are safeguards built in when an attorney is involved. There is no requirement under Michigan law that anyone dealing with you must accept a POA. Since it defeats your purpose in using such a form if it is not accepted when you need it to be, it pays to do everything possible to ensure that the form will be honored.

    James Frederick

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  • If I sign form PC 567 and nominate a rep do I renounce my right to the estate

    Question on renunciation of right to appointment form pc-567

    James’s Answer

    No. Signing this form has nothing to do with your inheritance. It merely allows you to designate a personal representative and waive your right to serve. In cases where a number of people have equal priority for appointment, it can speed up the filing process. Even without this form signed, any person who has priority can apply to or petition the court for appointment. They would need to provide notice to everyone else with equal or prior right, and then wait at least two weeks. Having this form signed by all persons with priority eliminates the two week waiting period.

    James Frederick

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  • To what office (address) in Jackson, MI does one go to obtain a Lady Bird Deed? What documents would one need to take with the

    I would like to obtain a Lady Bird Deed for my home/property in Jackson, MI

    James’s Answer

    Just to clarify the information you have received, you do not obtain a lady bird deed from the county. This is something that you have an attorney prepare for you. County personnel are not legally able to give you any legal advice. There is no form available that they can provide to you. An estate planning attorney can prepare a deed for you for a relatively nominal fee. Once the deed is prepared, you would have it recorded with the County Register of Deeds office. There will be a $14 recording fee for this, as long as the deed can be contained on one page.

    James Frederick

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  • Mistakes in Lady Bird Deeds and new conveyance

    Grantor had a lawyer prepare and record a lady bird deed, reserving grantor a life estate with full powers with remainder to her son. The deed had an incomplete legal description, so the attorney corrected it and re-recorded the deed without namin...

    James’s Answer

    You are asking an opinion based on limited facts and no ability to see the documents. With that in mind, it sounds to me like the latter conveyance was within the rights of the grantor and would thwart the rights of any potential remainderman. A lady bird deed says, "If I do not transfer this property during my lifetime, I give it to X." Since it was transferred during lifetime, there is nothing left to give to X. It should not matter whether the deed references the prior deed(s), or the reserved enhanced life estate, although it is better practice to do so.

    While it is possible that some title company might have an issue with this, I think it is more likely that it would not create a problem.

    James Frederick

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  • How can I prove that my sister is keeping all estate,personal belongings,money's,and not dividing like mom had told us she wante

    My mom passed away a month ago.she has a home she owns. She had told my sister to put all three kids names on the deed..and she did not..now my mother had said to sell the home and split three ways..., now my little sister is saying mom gave her t...

    James’s Answer

    This appears to be a duplicate of your other question. You received good answers to both posts. As was stated previously, verbal statements of intent mean nothing, from a legal perspective. Written documents control what happens, if they existed. In this case, you apparently have a deed signed by your mother, placing the home in your sister's name. You may also have your sister listed as beneficiary on your mother's remaining assets. You cannot set this aside simply because you do not like what was done, or your mother told you things would be divided equally. You need compelling evidence that your mother either was lacking in capacity when the documents were signed and/or that your sister exercised undue influence. If there was a lawyer involved in obtaining the deed, your task is even more difficult. There is almost no way that you can successfully challenge this without retaining a highly skilled probate litigation attorney.

    James Frederick

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  • How can I prove that my sister is keeping all estate,personal belongings,money's,and not dividing like mom had told us she wante

    My mom passed away a month ago.she has a home she owns. She had told my sister to put all three kids names on the deed..and she did not..now my mother had said to sell the home and split three ways..., now my little sister is saying mom gave her t...

    James’s Answer

    The only way that you are going to be able to sort this out is by challenging things in probate court. Whether or not you have a basis for challenging the way things passed is not clear from your summary. You cannot challenge things simply because you do not like the way that your mom left her assets. Verbal comments mean nothing, from a legal perspective. Did your mother leave a Will? If not, it sounds like she set things up to pass automatically to your sister. Your sister could not "put the deed in her name." Your mother would have had to sign the deed. How was this done? Was it done with the assistance of a lawyer? If so, the lawyer will testify against you. What was your mother's mental capacity at the time the paperwork was done? Was your sister in a position to unduly influence her?

    All of these are questions that would not only need to be answered, but you would need compelling evidence to overturn what your mother apparently set up. It is possible to contest your mother's estate plan, but you cannot hope to do this on your own. You need to meet with a probate litigation attorney and take all of the information that you have available.

    James Frederick

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  • House Bill 4930 - property tax

    Mom passed away last year. She lived on a lake in Michigan. In her Trust, she left the lake home to both myself and my brother. This would be the vacation home. We transferred the deed to our names upon her death. The tax assessing office ha...

    James’s Answer

    I believe that under the new law, your assessment should remain capped at your mom's levels. The specific paragraph that addresses this issue should be, here:
    (d) A conveyance by distribution from a trust, except under any of the following conditions:
    (i) If the distributee is the sole present beneficiary or the spouse of the sole present beneficiary, or both.
    (ii) Beginning December 31, 2014, a distribution of residential real property if the distributee is the settlor’s or the settlor’s spouse’s mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, adopted son, adopted daughter, grandson, or granddaughter and the residential real property is not used for any commercial purpose following the conveyance. Upon request by the department of treasury or the assessor, the sole present beneficiary or beneficiaries shall furnish proof within 30 days that the sole present beneficiary or beneficiaries meet the requirements of this subparagraph. If a present beneficiary fails to comply with a request by the department of treasury or assessor under this subparagraph, that present beneficiary is subject to a fine of $200.00.

    For a copy of the statute itself, see here:
    http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2015-2016/publicact/pdf/2015-PA-0243.pdf

    James Frederick

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  • Will probate need to be reopened.can just create a deed and file it. Is it just a deed that needs to be filed

    I have been residing at my father's residence for 7 years in 2013 December he passed away with out a WILL. I filed informal probate myself was awarded control of the estate, followed all the procedures within requested documentation. With no con...

    James’s Answer

    I agree with my colleagues, with one slight hesitation. You indicate in your summary that you were "awarded the property and house." How was this done, exactly? If the court ordered that the property be distributed to you, you might be able to simply record the court order, provided it is set up in a way that it can be recorded. In other words, if there is an order that states the legal description of the property and that it is to pass to you, that may be an alternative to re-opening the estate.

    James Frederick

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  • Can I contest and win my Fathers money? He died and My mother and sister are on the will but I am not? What laws protect me?

    My Father passed away and had dementia when his will executed. My sister and mother did not include me in the will. My Father did not and could not have done the will on his own. What are the laws for this that will give me anything if I can br...

    James’s Answer

    I am very sorry for your loss.

    Your questions cannot be answered without more information. How the assets are titled, is the biggest issue. If everything is jointly held between your parents, which is very common, then your father's Will is irrelevant. Everything will automatically pass to your mother. If there were assets in your father's name alone, and there were no beneficiaries named on those assets, then probate would be necessary for those items. In that case, the Will would be relevant, and you would need to challenge it, in order to receive anything.

    In that case, yes it is possible to contest whatever you want to. But you will lose unless you can prove lack of capacity or undue influence. It is generally very difficult to do this. Even if you are successful in overturning the Will, it doesn't automatically mean you would be entitled to any assets. Michigan law protects the surviving spouse, first and foremost. She would be entitled to a substantial chunk of the estate before the children would receive anything.

    You have a very uphill battle ahead of you, even if the assets are not all joint. Your only real hope is to sit down with a good probate litigation attorney, and hope that there are compelling facts on your side.

    James Frederick

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