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Anne Lopiano’s Answers

88 total


  • When spouse ends financial support

    my husband has supported me financially for last 20+ years, but quit this month and I am now paying all the bills, mortgage, etc. This is using up my inheritance. Spouse's use of alcohol is affecting his earning ability. How can I preserve my ...

    Anne’s Answer

    You need to contact an attorney immediately to help you obtain a divorce, and to help you cut your losses at this point and before husband gets any more dysfunctional. An attorney will need to be paid for her work on your behalf so review your assets, figure out how to allocate a limp sum to legal fees for resolving this matter, and go for it. Your attorney (if any good) will explain the several ways to approach a divorce: through litgation, thrugh mediation, and through the collaborative law divorce process. Both patie have to agree to and sign up for the collaborative law process, but I find it more effective, less expensive (usually), potentially faster (if both parties are on board to get divorced and divide up the assets), more humane, less nerve wrackign for the clients, and far better for the family as a whole, than litigation. Check out more about collaborative law at http://www.collablawmaryland.org/annelopiano.htm.

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  • My husband of 10 years has not mentioned me in his will. Do I have any rights for inheritance?

    My husband has 2 children from his previous marriage and in his will elected them as his beneficiaries and did not mention me at all. He has 2 paid off houses that he purchased before he met me, 401 K plan and other savings. Can I challenge his wi...

    Anne’s Answer

    YOU ask:
    My husband has 2 children from his previous marriage and in his will elected them as his beneficiaries and did not mention me at all. He has 2 paid off houses that he purchased before he met me, 401 K plan and other savings. Can I challenge his will? Can my husband's children throw me out of the house when he passes away?

    ANSWER: Even if he leaves you nothing in his Will, Maryland law allows you both a "family allowance" of $5,000 as a survivign spouse (assuming there are enough assets in the probate estate to pay it) as well as the right to make waht's called a "spousal election" against the will, to take 50% of the probate estate. However, he can manipulate the value of your spousal election by making sure that some things are not part of his probate estate when he dies. For instance: he could convey both of his solely owned houses to someone else while he is alive. That would take them out of the probate estate, if done several years before he dies. Even if he does NOT do that, and your name is NOT on the deed to the house you live in, then Yes, the personal represenatative could evict you from a house belonging to the estate after your husband dies. As to the 401k plan, that is not a probate asset and its distribution after death is controllled by federal , not Maryland law. Since you are his spouse, it will go to you, unless you have ever waived your right (in writing) to that 401K plan. if he still loves you, and wants you to stay around and care for him, have you though tabout askign him to execute a post-marital agreement, whereby he promises ot leave you certain assets in his will (or otherwise) when he dies or give them to you before he dies?

    Hope this helps!
    Anne LoPiano

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  • My aunt who is now deceased was named on a valid will. My aunt does have her only sister living. Can that sister beneit ?

    My aunt was devoted to John Doe for over 23 years assisting him in his household, and helping to care for his handicapped brother, who passed 3 yrs. ago. My aunt was mentioned to receive many proceeds in John Doe's Will.. Now, John Doe recently ...

    Anne’s Answer

    Only if your living aunt changed her position in life (such as taking care of John Doe every day for along time, or moving in with him just to do so, and giving up some other opportunity in life) would she have grounds for contesting the Will, especially of there are living witnesses to what work she did for John Doe and that the living aunt was relying on a promise made by John Doe. What would have been your other aunt's legacy or bequest will go to whomever John Doe's Codicil say it will go to. Even if one could prove that John Doe was mentally incompetent when he signed the codicil -- that woould not likeley help your living aunt -- because when your aunt died, her legacy under the Will died with her.
    --Anne LoPiano

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  • Does the Power of Attorney for Health Care form need to be signed by a notary?

    do i need to have a notary to make the Power of Attorney for Health Care form valid?

    Anne’s Answer

    No-- and I think the form even says so, at the end.

    Anne LoPiano

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  • Does she have any rights?

    a widow who has power of attorney over her husbands property decided to keep a vehicle her husband had not finished paying for. She informed the car dealer of her husbands passing, that she would she keep the vehicle and requested her name be adde...

    Anne’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    I assume the following facts from your question: 1) That your name is NOT on the car title as a joint owner with your deceased husband, abd that you did NOT sign on the car loan. In that case, it does appear that the lender has the right to repossess the car, and must give to your husband's estate a check for any difference between the value of the car and the amount they are still owed, which may be nothing after their legal and repossession expenses are counted in. If their loan documents give them a lien on the car then they have to right to do what is necessary to reposses the car. if you really want that particular expensive car and want to continue to pay $20,000 for it, why dont you have your lawyer see if she or he can work out somethiing wiht the lender? P.S.: your power of attorney is no good after your husband's death.

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  • Should I sign a waiver bond?

    Daughter died, no spouse or children. Her mother and I are divorced. He mother wants me to sign a waiver of bond. There obviously isn't a will. should I sign the bond?

    Anne’s Answer

    Even if you do sign a waiver of bond, in Maryland, the Register of Wills will almost always set some "nominal" bond amount anyway. Whether you should sign or not all depends on the level of "probate" assets your daughter owned and whether you trust the Personal Representative (sounds like that is your ex) to be honest in her inventorying and distribution of the assets. Probate assets are things and accounts that are titled in your daughter's sole name or as a e(not joint with another) and probate assets do NOT include life insurance proceeds, 401k accounts, IRAs, or the like -- unless the death benefits or proceeds are payable to your daughter's estate, rather than to a named person.

    Anne LoPiano

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  • What is the law regarding changing a will in the state of Maryland? Is it necessary to use a lawyer?

    I want to change the heirs to my property. Those named in my present will not be named in the changed (or new) will.

    Anne’s Answer

    Thomas C Valkenet gave a good answer to this question. I agree.

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  • I inherited money from a relative. Does my spouse have any claim to this money?

    the money is in my name only

    Anne’s Answer

    No, your spouse does not have any claim to this money while you are living, including in the the context of a divorce proceeding, under maryland law. Inherited money is not marital property. However, if you should die while still married, and there is no agreement in place to the contrary, your spouse (even if you are separated) can elect against your will to take a share of your estate, which would include this inherited money.

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  • Only child of deceased parent. how to claim mortgaged home

    my mom recently passed and i am an only child. she never married. she owned the home she lived in with her uncle, who is also deceased. my uncle has no children, but my mom did have siblings. she had no will and no other property/estate. do i now ...

    Anne’s Answer

    If the facts you report are accurate, then you would be the rightful owner of the home, assuming your mother did not die with debts she owed that would be payable out of the assets she owned ( the house). Your mother's creditors have up to 6 months after her death to come forward and file a claim wiht the Register of Wills or the Personal Representative. You will need to open a probate estate (at least for your mother's estate) at the Register of Wills Office in the Maryland County in which your mother was living at the time of her death, (if not also for your uncle's estate) in order to have a paper trail and the legal authority (Letters of Administration) to create and record a new deed that transfers the real estate to your name, or to thave the authority to sell the house so as to opay off her just debts and then to pay over to yourself all the remaining sale proceeds. Best to get a lawyer for this.

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  • If a person has POA for a client, but is not the client, can the POA use attorney client privilege?

    Client is elder, son has POA, son is being sued and in response to interrogatories is claiming attorney client privilege, while the elder was alive. After the elder passes, the POA became the client and then could claim att'y client priv.? yes?

    Anne’s Answer

    Not only does the status of being an agent (attorney-in-fact) NOT entitle the son to claim any attorney-client privilige, but the son is obligated to act only in the best interests of his father. That would include providing truthful information about his financial transactions under the POA, at the request of his father or his father's guardian or attorney that would help his father. If the father is now no longer mentally competent, I believe his guaridan can revoke the power of attorney. The errant son can also be prosecuted under Maryland's criminal code for financial elder abuse.

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