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Anne Lopiano’s Answers

88 total


  • My grandfather recently passed, and now his estate admin has filed a Small Estate, I know his value is more than 30K!

    What if there is more to the estate than the 30K limit on small estates? My grandfather verbally stated something different to me just weeks prior to his passing on what to expect. Should I blindly trust his appointed administrator?

    Anne’s Answer

    You have to ask yourself -- what motive would the personal representative (PR) have to not list some of the assets of your grandfather as probate assets? Often, this means that the bank accounts that you thought were just titled to the deceased person, were in fact jointly titled to the deceased person AND to the personal representative. If that is the case, then all those accounts now belong only to the PR. Grandfather's mind may have grwon dim near death, and he may have forgotten that he titled those accounts jointly with whomever. It could even be that he never intended or understood that the way he titled those accounts would result in the whole thing going to the joint owner at his death. But for you to prove in court that the PR twisted grandpa's arm and used "undue influence" to force or trick him into titling those accounts in joint names is a VERY difficlut and expensive thing to so. I suggest asking the PR if he or she will just tell you whether that "missing money" was actually in jointly titled accoounts with the PR. If he or she says NO, then maybe you can share any information you have with him/her so that the PR can track down any truly "missing" money. If the PR refuses to talk with you about this, you can alwayts challenge the Account (not the Inventory) filed by the PR by filing an Exception or Opposition to the Account, and then you can conduct "discovery" -- where you are permited to ask the PR questions in writing to which she must provide written answers, and also to request documents. You will need an attorney if you want to accomplish anything that way.

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  • When does a administrator of a estate take their 10 % fee from the estate

    my brother informed myself and two other sisters that money is getting tight for him and he was going to take part of the 10%fee from the estate.Even though the estate is no where near being settled

    Anne’s Answer

    There is no such thing as a standard 10% fee for anyone in a probate estate. If the personal representative wants to take a commission for his work in administering the estate, he either must have the signed consent of all legatees, or he must petition the orphans court in writing to allow him a commission. In either event, his maximum allowable commission will be slightly less than 4% of the gross Inventory assets. You may wish to hire an attormey to look into the administration of this estate for you to see if it appears that it is being administered properly.

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  • Does a durable POA give a child rights to make decisions even if there is a living spouse?

    A friend's mother gave him POA several years ago. She is now incapacitated to the point of being non responsive, intubated and clearly unable to communicate. There is some danger to her from the spouse. Does the POA that my friend has give him ...

    Anne’s Answer

    It's not clear form your question whether yur frined (the son) was given a health care power of attorney or just a financial power of attorney, or both. If this lady gave anyone a health care power of attorney in an advanced helath care directive or living Will, that is th eperson who has the authority to make health care decisions. If no one was gicen this power, then the dpctors would probaly look ot the the living spous,if competent and in a non-estranged, ongoing marriage realationship. In any event, where there is no advanced health care directive, the doctors would likeley consult with both the children and the spouse, AND use their own discretion, as they are not eager to be sued or accused by anyone of having made an innappropriate or hasty end-of-life decision.

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  • Power of Attorney

    Where can I notarize a power of attorney?

    Anne’s Answer

    If you are the person granting the power of attorney, I hope you had the assistance of an attorney in doing so. If so, I am sure that attorney's office can provide the requisite notarization. If you did not have an attorney draft this up for you, I strongly suggest you have an attorney review it before you sign it, to make sure it does all that you want it to do, no more, and no less. If, on the other hand, you are the attorney-in-fact ( the person to hwom the power of attorney is given) than you cannot lawfully get it notarized all by yourslef, because the notary must attest to the signature of the person granting the power of attorney having been made in the notary's presence.

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  • How would I find out if money was left to me by a deceased relative?

    The relative died a couple of years ago and I was not told until the money was distributed. The property was recently sold what can I do to find out if money was left for me?

    Anne’s Answer

    If the deceased relative left a Will, and it has been probated, you can go tot Register of Wills office in the Maryland County where the deceased person lived and died, and look at the Will itslef and at all documents filed with the Register Wills about this estate. You don't say how you are related to the deceased person, but are you so out-of relationship with the other heirsof the perosn who died, that you cannot call one of them and ask what is heappening?

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  • Can you tell me this. I need to file a QDRO to give my ex husband part of my 401 K. who is the defendant and who is the plaintif

    I just wnat to know if I file a QDRO TO THE COURT TO GIVE MY ex-husband part of my retirement savings. who is the defendant me or my ex-husband?

    Anne’s Answer

    If you have a written agreement that references the "defendant" and the "plaintiff" with regard to whose duty it is the draft and submit QDROs, you need to either ask the attorney who wrote this agreement for you, or if you have signed an agreement NOT wiritten by an attorney, you should consult one right away to find out what you have really obligated yourself to do. if you are thinking of signing am agreement that includes division of retirment benefots suich as 401k, by all means protect yourself by consulting an experienec family law attorney. This is an area of law where it is easy to make mistakes on your own that can end up costing you lost of money.In any lawsuit, including for a divorce, there is a plaintiff ( the one who starts the suit with a "Complainit") and a defendant ( the one who is sued, and files and "Answer".) if neither of you has filed suit yet, then there is yet no plantiff and no defendant.

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  • Moving out: Would it be of a disadvantage?I would like to move out(with my 15yr & 11yr old kids),from our 15year marriage.

    But was told by friends not to do so,as this will be a disadvantage to me,since more custody time will be in his favor.By him serving me papers or asking me to move is the best solution(so I'm told),but I cannot let my kids and me experience a lif...

    Anne’s Answer

    Tom Mulinazzi gives you good information in his answer to your question. As a matter of general information and NOT legal advice, I would add emphasis to his point that a co-parent/spouse loses nothing in the way of parental rights, court favor, credibility, or property rights, by being the one who moves out of the marital home, or who is the first to file/serve custody or divorce suit papers on tghe other. Generally, it is also important to figure out where you are going to stay or live, at least for a few months, before you take the kids and move out, but I am sure you have thought about that.

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  • My father died 4 years ago and he did not have a will. Was with girlfriend for 30 years who wants us to sign over estate

    How do I find out if he has estate to claim? How much does it coast to get this information. Were do I go to. thank you

    Anne’s Answer

    Search on http://registers.maryland.gov/main/search.html to see if any one has opened an estate in his name. if so, the file is a public record and you can go look at the whole thing, and see what has been done. Any child of yoru father can apply to be the personal Representative if any estate has not yet been opened. if the girflrien dof 30 years holds all the informaiton and bank account reords AND she has aksed the family to "sign over" the estate, there must be something in Dad's name that would be a probate estate asset. Consult with an attorney about getting this information form the girlfriend or another source. Unless dad left his estate to the girlfriend in a valid Will , she has no right to inheort under Maryland law.

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  • My grandfather has three children; one had the power of attorney and handled all of his affairs. Grandfather died in Sept 2010.

    My grandfather's son and wife moved in to take care of my grandfather who died within 24 hours of being in the son's care. No lease was ever signed. Uncle and wife are living in the house and hasn't paid rent; doesn't want to pay taxes or mainta...

    Anne’s Answer

    Power of attorney has nothing to do with it, now that Grandfather is dead. The Personal Representative should consult an attorney about evicting the family member now living there for free, or possibly arrange for a lease. An attorney would also help the Personal Representative to get this estate in order and bring it to closure more efficiently. That was also my suggestion here maybe 2 weeks ago.

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  • How long does it take to get a hearing scheduled?

    Once you have served your spouse and filed your request, how long does it take to get a hearing scheduled? And how long after the hearing does it take for the final court or decree?

    Anne’s Answer

    It all depends on the county where you file. Som counties can be 2 months before a hearing. Others only a few weeks. If both parties sign a 10 day waiver form, the court order may issue within a few days after the hearing. It is then a final order, but subject to motion to amend or appeal by either party for the next 30 days.

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