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Brian C. Snell

Brian Snell’s Answers

539 total


  • How can I best meet the state's requirements to collect this unclaimed money.

    My mother passed away in 2011 ( I am the only survivor) and even though there was a will, it was never probated. This was because there was not much left after the nursing home expenses and other assets were already in my name as either TOD or joi...

    Brian’s Answer

    Unclaimed property division must have stepped up advertising as I have had three of these clients in the last month alone. The bottom line is that you now need to probate your mother's estate. These were assets that were titled in her name alone prior to her passing. Financial institutions are required to escheat the assets to the state after six years of inactivity. I learned that in my prior life as a Bank auditor. I recommend that you find her Will and an original death certificate and make an appointment with an Attorney. Best wishes and good luck!

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  • Does a New Hampshire resident have to comply to a Vaughn Affidavit for Middlesex County, Mass? And if so, why or why not ?

    Hello, I would like to know if a Vaughn Affidavit is applicable to someone who lives out of state. For example. I am going through a divorce in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. The opposing counsel wants my father, who lives in New Hampshire...

    Brian’s Answer

    Not being a Family Law Attorney, I googled the term Vaughan Affidavit. There is a very good description of the history and and the purpose at http://www.massachusetts-divorce.com/articles/Vaughan.htm.

    From what I can tell, there is no requirement that your non-Massachusetts residing parent produce the Vaughan Affidavit. That said, the child of that parent should expect to incur additional legal fees explaining why the parent will not comply. Additionally, the requesting party will likely incur additional fees trying to determine what expectant inheritance is likely. Additionally, the Court may take into consideration these false expectations, inflated expectations in making a a division of assets. Therefore, it might be in the best interest of the parent's now divorcing child to provide the Affidavit. The Affidavit is descriptive of the current state of the parent's estate plan. It does not require that the parent notify the court of any changes. The Affidavit will be used to determine a property division and has a very generous provision related to the valuation of the estate, plus/minus $500,000.

    I would suggest that your father (assuming that you are not the divorcing party) discuss the situation with the child that is divorcing. I am sure that together they can find the appropriate thing to do.

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  • How long does a trust take to be distributed?

    My mother passed away three weeks ago. Dad died years ago. There are now two, fairly significant, trusts that have been combined and need to be distributed equally between the four siblings. My brother is also a Trustee. He says he submitted the (...

    Brian’s Answer

    So there are a couple of things going on here. First there is likely an estate tax issue in play since you have "two significant trusts" The fact that your brother has petitioned the Court for appointment and allowance of the Will means that there are some assets that existed outside the trusts that need to be collected and put into the trust, most likely, of your mother. Depending on the kind of assets in the trust, which sounds like it is largely real estate, distribution before the passing of a year may be difficult. I advise any personal representative that distributions before that anniversary of the decedent's passing be limited. The personal representative is personally liable if he distributes money and there is subsequently insufficient funds available to pay a creditor's claim. That said, if there are funds that are available for distribution, a partial distribution may be permissible, but again this is likely at the discretion of the trustee.

    While you could go out and hire an attorney, it sounds to me like you are getting information when you ask for it. Your brother has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the estate and the trust. It appears that he is giving you answers to your questions. I would suggest that you obtain copies of the trusts and request an accounting. It is beneficial to be aware of what should go on. I would also suggest that an attorney might be necessary if you loose confidence with your brother, it is taking significantly longer than the year or he stops communicating the status on request. Until something like that happens, save your money and just stay aware.

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  • If we adhere to Grandmothers wishes and leave her be, are we liable for neglect? also, if APS, do we lose all control?

    My Grandmother (92), lives independently and has been doing well for years. My mom has POA and has arranged for friends to help with errands and also hired a driver for her. Lately, Grandmother is not eating much, has lost way too much weight and ...

    Brian’s Answer

    So if your mother has POA for your grandmother and the document is in effect, and the document has language allowing the acts she would like to do, then your mother may act for your grandmother. So that may mean that your mother could reduce her bank balances so that your grandmother does not give away all her money. That said, some Powers of Attorney require a doctor to declare that the principal no longer has capacity to make decisions. Similarly, a health care proxy (also known as health care power of attorney) requires a doctor to activate.
    I would suggest that your mother arrange for your grandmother to be seen by her doctor. It could be that she needs some medication adjusted so that her temperament returns to where it was.
    You may not be legally responsible for your grandmother falling into poor health, but my advise would be that you clearly feel a moral responsibility and for that reason, it might be good to try to intervene. You could contact the Elder Ombudsman in your state to seek information on how to proceed. Closing your eyes, or putting your head in the sand is only going to generate regret in the future.

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  • What are my next steps? Is there any recourse for me? Anyway I can report the situation ?

    Just started a new position. Little by little I am recognizing many things that are wrong. Including but not limited to keep hundreds and hundreds of folders of copies of licenses, credit cards, personal info filed to be able to reopen accounts. ...

    Brian’s Answer

    If you think that the company is doing something illegal, then you could contact the attorney general's office. If they are just bad a business, and you don't like the job or they way that they treat you, I would resign.

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  • If the business appraisal did not include money in the accounts or the receivables, what (and when) goes with the stock?

    My father was the sole stockholder of his business, but my sister helped him run it. He died and left her all of the stock in the will. Does she inherit all of the income from the business that was already generated and all the money in the acco...

    Brian’s Answer

    If the accounts are tied to the tax identification number of the business, then they are part of that business. If she is the sole beneficiary of the stock associated with the business, then the accounts, past, present and future balances, are distributed to your sister. The business should be part of the probate inventory since it is a closely held S-Corporation. If the account was a personal account, that is separate and apart from the business and will pass most likely to the person inheriting under the residual clause of the Will. A Probate Attorney will be able to help get things sorted out.

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  • Would like to know the correct way to Handel the money so my mother can keep her health insurance.

    My 66 year old mother received a large amount of money from the sale of a co-op apartment she lives in. She is unable to work due to health reasons and is currently on Mass health and collects social security. She was told she need to put the mone...

    Brian’s Answer

    There are many factors that will go into the analysis of how best to work on this. Your mother is fairly young, is she healthy too and therefore the money needs to last a long time? Is it her desire to preserve the money for herself or is she mostly concerned with trying to leave a legacy? Does she have sufficient income now? Has she considered coming off MassHealth and then using the money so that her quality of life might improve?

    An Elder Law Attorney will help to analyze the issues with both you and your mother. Its best not to rely solely on responses through this service.

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  • Challenge to estate is certainty. Need to omit close relatives. How can I make sure it's understood that omission is deliberate?

    My family is very contentious & a challenge to my estate is an absolute certainty. There've already been challenges to the estates of 2 other deceased relatives & I've watched in horror as their estates have been turned upside-down, assets frozen ...

    Brian’s Answer

    I am sorry that this is even a concern of yours. The advice given by the other attorneys is certainly good. I guess I would add to the advice in that it would be good to have any and all property that you own in the trust before you pass away. That way, there is no probate estate for disgruntled family members to litigate against. That said, even the best intentions of transferring property to a trust during life leave forgotten pieces out. I would therefore know who your heirs-at-law are. If your parents are alive and you are unmarried, they are the only ones with rights regarding your estate. If you are married without children, your spouse is the only one with rights to your estate. If both your spouse and your children are alive, they are the heirs. Lastly, if you pass without parents, a spouse or children, your estate first looks for other heirs like nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles and cousins. Only someone with standing can file an objection regarding your estate.

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  • Can a spouse sign legal documents for a husband, who has been declared incompetent, in the state of MA

    Asking specifically about signing documents for an Assisted Living, like a lease

    Brian’s Answer

    I agree with Attorny Golden. I would also add that any contracts that you sign where you did not have legal authority could in fact result in a legally binding agreement between you and a facility. I would suggest that you would not want to create that relationship.
    I encourage you to meet with an Elder Law Attorney sooner rather than later

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