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RobRoy Platt

RobRoy Platt’s Answers

9 total

  • How long does a person have to contest a will after a person has passed.

    My friend changed his will last summer. He passed away a few days ago. All that could be found was his old will. Could'nt they go to the lawyers office and get a copy of the most recent will?

    RobRoy’s Answer

    Many attorneys today keep electronic copies of recently prepared and/or executed wills. Often, attorneys who prepared estate planning documents are not aware of the passing of a client. If that attorney knows of valid will that was executed subsequent to the will being offered to the court for probating, then that attorney should make that will available to the heirs or submit it himself or herself to the court. The particulars of the duties of the attorney may change from state to state. But the principle is typically the same. If someone knows of a valid last will of a decedent, that will should be submitted to the probate process to test its validity. Additionally, the length of time that someone has to challenge a will varies from state to state. You should definitely contact an attorney in the state where your friend died to discuss any applicable statutes of limitation.

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  • In Arkansas, does a probate attorney always only represent the estate personal rep?

    It doesn't seem ethical, fair or objective for a probate attorney to only represent the personal rep. and not the beneficiary or the estate, but yet charge the estate fully for her services. That's the case of a probate matter I'm beneficiary of a...

    RobRoy’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    As previously mentioned, in most states, an attorney can represent any party in a probate matter. For example, often an attorney will represent the executor or personal representative although it is not uncommon for the executor or personal representative to represent themselves "pro se." But when a controversy arises in such a context, it is also very common for a disgruntled heir or a creditor to have a probate attorney represent them in a legal proceeding against the estate. While the specifics of Arkansas law may be different from other states, you would be well served by contacting a probate attorney in your county and visiting briefly over the phone about this. Many attorneys will provide at least a free initial assessment as to whether is would be useful for you to come and meet with them to discuss your matter more fully before deciding to represent you.

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  • Can a will be changed by the surviving spouse to a trust?

    My dad had a will made out a long time ago stating that the oldest would be in charge of dividing things up after him and mom died. Since my brother the oldest has deceased, it goes to my sister. My dad passed away in 2010 and my sister told me m...

    RobRoy’s Answer

    I agree that some more fact-finding needs to be done before it can be determined whether anyone acted illegally. Often, even unfair things can be "legal." I also agree that you should contact a trust/estates litigation attorney immediately to consult with him or her on whether there is something untoward going on.

    Before you do, however, it might be helpful for you to contact your sister first and ask her to help you understand what the facts are. If she has nothing to hide, my experience is that people are often happy to clear up misunderstandings if given the chance. However, If she is uncooperative, evasive, or defensive, then seeking out an attorney may be the best course of action.

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  • How to get my money from my inheritance?

    in the will it states all monies etc. to be split down the middle with my sister I have yet to get anything.

    RobRoy’s Answer

    You really should contact an attorney in the state in which the deceased individual was residing or in which their property is located (assuming they own real estate). That attorney can counsel you regarding your rights, the time limits associated with enforcing those rights, and what steps should be taken next. Many attorneys will offer free consultations or at least discounted initial consultation fees to discuss the specifics of your case to help you determine whether it is worth pursing. In my own practice, I will often meet with clients for an hour at a significantly reduced rate from my normal hourly fee to help them determine whether they should pursue their case.

    I would encourage you to not delay in contacting an attorney as time limits may eventually bar you from enforcing your rights which you appear to have based on your understanding of the will in question.

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  • What happens when newly discovered assets exceed the limits of a previously approved Small estates petition?

    I had a Small Estates petition approved in PA to settle my dad's estate. His estate had assets close to the $25K limit. After the petition was approved, I discovered the estate was eligible to submit a Long Term Care Insurance claim that might ...

    RobRoy’s Answer

    Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), you will likely need to follow state law if the law requires that a probate be opened when estate assets exceed the threshold amount. In Utah, where I practice, if people are close to the threshold amount for a probate ($100,000 in Utah), then I will often counsel my clients that a probate can be a beneficial thing. What it does is that it allows you to bring some certainty and closure to the distribution of the estate assets with court approval.

    With a small estate affidavit, there's very little oversight and formality. As such, you might save some time and money, but there will likely always remain some uncertainty as to whether you did things appropriately. Getting the advice of a practicing probate attorney can provide you protection years later if your distribution of the estate was ever brought into question. You can sleep easier knowing that your attorney provided you with good advice and that, ultimately, if he did not, you will have a claim against the attorney for giving you bad advice. That is what I tell my clients.

    It may be similar to doing your own electrical wiring in your new home. Sure, you may end up doing it right. But you could also miss some critical things because you're not trained or experienced as an electrician. That's why we're usually willing to pay an electrician a premium to do his work, because we can sleep better at night knowing that it was probably done right and that we won't wake up to a house in flames.

    Don't be afraid of probate. It's not an inherently evil thing even though it does add some complexity and expense. It can serve a very good purpose (i.e., protection for the personal representative or executor).

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  • Is an executor needed when a person dies?

    My father owned a car and thats it. His last utility bills and furniture bill is all the debts I know of. His medical bills are almost taken care of, so do my sisters and I have to find an executor?

    RobRoy’s Answer

    Many states (including Utah, where I am licensed to practice) have attempted to simplify the probate process for the survivors of individuals who die owning relatively small amounts of property. In such states, the process is sometimes referred to as "small estate proceedings" or a similar term. Often the process simply requires the preparation of an affidavit (a sworn statement) by a family member or other "interested person" stating that the individual has died and that no other probate proceeding has been initiated in the court system to handle the distribution of that person's property, and that the person providing the affidavit is entitled to collect and distribute the property. Such an affidavit can be provided to banks, financial institutions, or other custodians of the deceased person's property in order to collect the property and distribute it to the heirs of the deceased.

    You will need to check the laws of the state in which the deceased owned the property to determine (1) whether small estate proceedings are available to you, (2) what qualifies an estate for such simplified administration (for instance, in Utah, after subtracting debts, taxes, etc., you must have less than $100,000 worth of personal property and no real property in your estate before you can qualify for small estate proceedings), and (3) what the statutory requirements for completing the process is.

    A probate attorney in your state should be able to quickly help you determine whether such a process is available to you. Often, State probate court websites even provide the legal forms that someone can use to complete the process on their own. Although it is a simple process (relative to a full-blown probate), you must nevertheless exercise great care when handling the property of a deceased individual, including a family member. I would strongly recommend consulting with an experienced probate attorney before taking any action with regard to the estate.

    Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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  • Legal letter to refuse trust real estate.

    Rental properties upon father's death are left to blood children. Estate to be managed by the daughter-in-law of the 2nd wife (not the mother of the blood children). Four of the five blood children would like to legal refuse the trust real estat...

    RobRoy’s Answer

    No one can be forced to accept property from a deceased person's estate. A "disclaimer" is the legal device that allows you to refuse property that you would otherwise be entitled to under a testamentary instrument or through intestate succession.

    Consulting an attorney in your state on how to make such a disclaimer, and whether or not doing so will be advantageous to you, should be your first step.

    Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied upon, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact-specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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  • Should we sue nursing home for neglect?

    My grandmother was placed in the nursing home not even a year ago. Under their care there are times she hasn't been washed properly, hair hasn't been combed and nails so long that she cuts herself when she go to take care an itch. The solved that ...

    RobRoy’s Answer

    Deciding whether or not to sue a nursing home, or anyone for that matter, is so case-specific that you must consult with an attorney familiar with the laws of your state. While many Elder Law attorneys do not take on such litigation cases, there are some who do. Ask around, call the State Bar, or visit the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys website to start to narrow down who might be able to provide you with some direction on this matter. If you can find a personal injury attorney who is familiar with nursing home law, they may be in a very good position to help you with your situation.

    One note on litigation: it can be a very risky and exhausting experience. I strongly urge my clients to view litigation as a last resort. If there are alternative dispute resolution options available, give them a chance. You may well save yourself a great deal of money, time, and energy.

    Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied upon as such. Each state has different laws, each situation is fact-specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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  • I was referred to as a daughter, am I entitled to anything from the Estate?

    My Dad left when I was a kid. In the 1960's My Mom married Steve when I was 11. Steve and Mom then had 4 other kids. Steve always called me his daughter but never adopted me. Mom died and I still kept in contact with Steve. When Steve died, I wa...

    RobRoy’s Answer

    Generally speaking, absent (1) Steve's adoption of you, (2) a bequest in Steve's will, trust or other testamentary instrument, or (3) some form of joint ownership interest in property, it is very unlikely that the laws of your state will make provision for you to receive any of Steve's property.

    However, each state is different with regard to what rights a child may have in their natural parent's estate. It may be possible that you had rights to receive a portion of your mother's estate upon her death, rather than having to watch everything pass to Steve, and then watch Steve give it all to his natural children, leaving you out.

    An attorney familiar with the probate laws of your state should be able to quickly assess what rights, if any, you have in Steve's estate. The first thing to do is to determine whether your mom had a will or trust when she died to see if you were entitled to receive anything upon her death. If she didn't have a will or trust, the intestacy laws of your state may provide some opportunity for you to obtain a portion of her estate. However, the statutes of limitation relevant to these claims may have already passed. A good lawyer in your state will help you to evaluate your options. Don't be afraid to contact one. They're often very nice people!

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