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James P. Frederick

James Frederick’s Answers

14,016 total


  • Can it be mandated that my dad's house be sold? Do I have any recourse? Is ownership 1/2 his and 1/2 mine?

    My father is in a long-term care facility and has been granted Medicaid, I had POA over his affairs until recently, when due to mistakes made by me, it was rescinded in favor of an appointed Guardian and Conservator. My father owns a house in Penn...

    James’s Answer

    Your exact position is not clear, because it is unknown how title is currently held. A court can order that a sale be made or that you purchase your father's assets, but a Michigan court would generally not have jurisdiction over Pennsylvania property. As for an inheritance, however, you do not get that during your dad's lifetime. If your father's assets are needed to take care of his debts, obligations and/or necessities while he is alive, then there would not BE an inheritance. So if your name is not currently on the title, then I do not think you HAVE any recourse, other than to follow the Court's order(s) and/or to buy your father out, at fair market value. You do not say what state your father is a resident of or what state the conservatorship is in. Those issues would definitely impact where you seek legal advice, as well as whether there may be other options available to you.

    James Frederick

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  • Will I lose my half of the money? I thought a check for the sale would be made out to the trust

    Selling my moms condo that is in trust I am the trustee with my sister I have a lien on myself for restitution

    James’s Answer

    If the proceeds are paid to the Trust, then they would not be subject to your lien, unless the lien is on the property itself. Whether you can delay the distribution to you and thereby defeat the lien depends on the terms of the Trust. Depending on how the lien was placed and on what, then you may have a defense against it. It might be worth visiting with a lawyer to determine how best to proceed.

    James Frederick

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  • How do you fill out a petition to reopen a closed estate?

    Former personal representative died after estate was closed. I am wife and personal representative of deceased personal representative. Should I petition to open estate as personal representative or estate of personal representative?

    James’s Answer

    To add to what has already been said, you would only reopen the estate, if there are additional assets that need to pass through your husband's estate. It would be very unusual for this to happen, after his death. Because this would be unusual, you should consult with an attorney before deciding to reopen the estate. Re-opening the estate will cost you the filing fee, at a minimum.

    In many cases, it is not necessary to petition the court, (which generally requires a hearing before the judge). You can often apply to the court to reopen the estate, which accomplishes the same thing, but does not require the hearing. This could save you some time and money, if reopening the estate IS needed.

    James Frederick

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  • How can i go about appealing a judge decision on appointing a medical guardian, when my mother had a DPA legally filled out?

    My situaton: My mother is in a nursing home, begining stages of dementia. She has appointment her patient adovocate over 10 years ago. We live in the state of Michigan. And according to the state of Michigan laws. When a person has a DPA legally...

    James’s Answer

    I agree with my colleagues. You have not indicated why a guardian was appointed, in the first place, given the existence of the DPA. Were you notified of the hearing on guardianship? Was the Judge notified of the DPA, at the time of the hearing? There are too many unknowns to give you much guidance. It is possible to overturn a guardianship, but you will need a reason to do so, and perhaps a compelling reason. The mere existence of the DPA, which may or may not have been factored into the original decision, is likely not reason, in and of itself.

    Keep in mind that a designation of patient advocate (or durable power of attorney for health care) is not the same thing as a guardianship. While there is some overlap in duties, a guardian has more legal authority than a patient advocate does. It could be that the facility where she is residing insisted on the guardianship, in order to protect itself.

    James Frederick

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  • Can I still probate the newer will? And what options do I have to fight with?

    My dad passed in 2013 before he passed he had a will a new will done in 2012 I have that will but I forgot to probate it. I knew he had an old will he did in 98 and it's been probated but I don't know when it says on the stamped part filed 2013 Ju...

    James’s Answer

    Under Michigan law, the later Will applies, unless there is some reason to contest it. It is not clear how someone is "using it against you," but if this is being done in Court, then you need to consult with an attorney to protect yourself. If someone persuades the judge that you "converted" the car, then you could be held responsible for up to treble damages, plus costs.

    James Frederick

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  • Do I have any legal responsibility to pay out of my own personal pocket for each of these tax obligations of my father?

    My father died intestate. Estate, gift and income taxes were owed. The residue of the probated estate had insignificant funds to pay the tax obligations. Can the IRS allocate individual personal responsibility to myself and my sister for my father...

    James’s Answer

    It sounds like there was a probate estate and therefore, there was a Personal Representative. As long as the PR acted properly in administering the estate, there is likely nothing that the IRS can do, in light of the insolvency. Filing a final return showing that your father is deceased and there are no taxable assets may prevent your needing to respond to IRS inquiries, down the road.

    If the IRS is determined to proceed, regardless, you will likely need an attorney and/or CPA to respond, on your behalf.

    James Frederick

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  • See above

    My Father has a Living Trust. He lives in Michigan. His sister is the Successor Trustee and I am the supposed some Beneficiary. My Dad is at end of life but won't share a copy of the Trust. How do I know the Trust exists? Are they record...

    James’s Answer

    There is very little that you can do, during your father's lifetime. One of the reasons why people execute Trusts is that they are a *private* arrangement. There is generally no court involvement, and the documents are not filed anywhere. Once your father has passed away, the legal status of his estate planning documents changes. In the case of a Will, it becomes operable, at that time, and in the case of a Trust, it becomes irrevocable. Your aunt will have legal responsibilities to you, if and when she becomes Trustee. If you do not believe that she is honoring those obligations, then you will need to consult with an attorney to determine what to do about that.

    In the meantime, focus on your dad and spending as much quality time with him that you can.

    James Frederick

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  • How do I legally remove myself from next of kin and avoid being notified when my mother dies?

    I'm an adult over the age of 21 living in Michigan. My biological mother and I have not had contact for years. I actually had to file a report of harassment with my local county sheriff's office against her in previous years. I understand that whe...

    James’s Answer

    You are not responsible for your mother's Funeral, in Michigan. You cannot remove yourself as next of kin. That is a status that is determined by state law. Whether anyone will know to call you our if your mother had made other plans is not clear. If your mother has not made other plans and you cannot be located or refuse to respond, your mother's remains will likely remain at the county morgue, for a time, and then eventually, she will be buried in a pauper's grave.

    Since you have no responsibility and do not want any, I would simply let your mom worry about it.

    James Frederick

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  • Do I have any legal rights to my moms house?

    In 2009 my brother and I had a falling out over a money conflict with my mother. He convinced her to remove me from her will. My mother was 87 at the time. In 2013 I recorded my mother saying she was going to tell him she wanted me back in the wil...

    James’s Answer

    It appears that you are in an extremely challenging position and have very little chance of prevailing, on these limited facts. Your story is a cautionary tale on the vital importance of having your estate planning done and updated, as it needs to be. Your mother presumably had an opportunity in 2013 to update her estate planning and she failed to do so. That left you with no protection and very limited legal rights. The fact that you were focused on her health and well-being and not on your financial gain speaks well to your priorities. Unfortunately, you are legally in no position to do much, at this point. You can potentially make a claim against the estate for any administrative expenses that you paid. Your services to your mother are deemed to be gratuitous, unless you had a written caregiver agreement, with her.

    James Frederick

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  • What do I need at court for Petition to Allow Accounts (for Final Report)?

    I filed my second and final Annual Report (Account of Fiduciary) and have a court date scheduled for Petition to Allow Accounts. This is final because the person I cared for passed away. The bond company says I must be released as conservator from...

    James’s Answer

    You will not be able to actually close the estate, if there are any assets remaining, unless and until a personal representative is appointed, for the decedent's estate. You will not be able to terminate the bond, either. If there are assets left over, you will want to determine who should be personal representative and make arrangements to get that person involved, as soon as possible. You will need to bring a Proof of Service form with you, and you will need to serve a Notice of Hearing on all interested parties of the estate. Ideally, you will want all of the interested parties to sign Waiver and Consent forms, approving the Account. If they do so, the Judge may approve your Account, ahead of time. You will still need to wait to turn over the assets to the PR, in order to actually close the estate. But that will smooth the process.

    The court personnel are not allowed to give you any legal advice, so she probably was not trying to be rude, but it can certainly come across that way. They are constantly being asked for help, and they are not allowed to give it to you, other than to hand you forms or tell you to consult with an attorney.

    James Frederick

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