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Christopher J. Berry

Christopher Berry’s Answers

39 total

  • My ex-husband just passed; Does his estate need to go to probate?

    My ex-husband just passed last week and he had no assets. He was receiving SSI and on Medicare. He lived in an apartment up until a month ago when he was resigned to a nursing facility. He was an alcoholic and estranged from his famiy. He has ...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Probably not if there were no assets. If he had a last will and testament it will have to be delivered to the probate court. If he had under roughly $20,000 in assets a small estate affidavit procedure would be available.

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  • Do I need a probate lawyer?

    My father passed away 1 year ago. He had remarried and had two more kids and then adopted a third. Me and my sister were never contacted regarding his estate and did not inquire. I have recently found out that his second wife petitioned for conse...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Quite a few issues going on here, title on the deed would control unless a court rules otherwise for some reason. I would hire an attorney if the value of the estate is worth it and get involved in the probate estate.

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  • How do you decide what county to file probate in?

    Is it the county in which the person lived?

    Christopher’s Answer

    The domicile of the decedent or where there is property.

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  • How long does it take to distribute funds from an estate that has been in probate for 2 1/2 years?

    The estate house was sold three weeks ago, how long can we expect to wait for distribution of estate funds? We are in Michigan.

    Christopher’s Answer

    A probate estate in Michigan typically only needs to remain open for a period of 5 months at minimum. After that it is just a matter of the personal representative being able to inventory, account, and then distribute the property after creditors have been paid off.

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  • I bought my home in my name but was married at the time. Will my husband have to deal with probate in order to keep our home

    in case I should pass before my husband I want to make sure he will automatically attain our marital home (it is currently in my name only)

    Christopher’s Answer

    As a general rule, assets can pass through joint ownership, beneficiary designation, trust or probate when someone passes away. If an asset is held joint owners with right of survivorship, then when one owner passes away, the asset remains with the survivor. This process would avoid probate. However, if both joint owners pass, the asset may end up in probate. In your case, you may want a trust, a new deed, or even a lady bird deed.

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  • Is there a way to protect assets for spouse when husband has nursing home costs?

    Husband has Alzheimers and has long term nursing home costs. Can any money be reserved for the remaining spouse?

    Christopher’s Answer

    Yes, assets can be protected for the spouse not living in the nursing home (community spouse). Through the use of trusts, the community spouse can protect anything over the protected amount. I'd recommend you speak with an elder law attorney sooner rather than later to minimize the lost of assets to the nursing home.

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  • Can I get guardianship of my grandchildren?

    My son and the mother of my grandchildren (ages 5, 4 & 3) were never married. Parentage has been established but there is no custody esteblished. I have court ordered grandparenting time. There has been an open CPS case since Feb. 09. The mother ...

    Christopher’s Answer

    From the sounds of it, the children need a stable environment, and you may have a chance go get guardianship of your grandchildren. The key in court will be to establish the stability of the environment you can provide.

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  • Can a beneficiary and trustee be the same individual?

    In a living trust, can the beneficiary and trustee be the same person?

    Christopher’s Answer

    Yes. For example, when you create a living trust, you serve all three major roles of trustmaker, trustee, and beneficiary. Then, if you were to pass, the role of trustee would pass to the successor trustee you have named. The trustee would manage the assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

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  • At what age does legal guardianship end? Does legal guardianship continue after the dependent becomes an adult (age 18?)?

    We are dealing with health insurance - and coverage eligibility. An employee has a niece that (s)he has guardianship over. We just need to know when this would end -- if it is when she is 18, she would no longer be eligible to be covered under th...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Guardianship ends at age 18, unless, as the above posters mentioned there was incapacity.

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  • Who has the authority to claim unclaimed property?

    I am the representative on my mothers will. My siblings recently found out that my mother had some unclaimed property through Manulife Financial. My question is do they have the authority to do anything without my consent and who has the righ...

    Christopher’s Answer

    They do not have authority. You as personal representative and with a letter of authority from the court would be the one that needs to work with Manulife Financial to distribute the assets per the terms of the will.

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