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James P. Frederick

James Frederick’s Answers

14,058 total


  • I am wondering if I have any rights to find out how my parents property/cash was distributed after their deaths.

    There are many issues. I had been the DPOA over medical for my father who was living in a nursing home after being paralyzed after aneurysm surgery @ U of M. He had had a stroke, but my oldest sister (Rebecca Rea D. O.) forced him to sign new...

    James’s Answer

    You should never post private information in a forum like this, because it can later be used against you. Hopefully, someone at AVVO will note that and remove the identifying information.

    With regard to your summary, you have a complex situation and you need to have a probate attorney review all of the facts with you. There are too many unknowns to do much more than speculate, here. It is not clear if there was an estate or not. It is not clear how your parents' assets were titled or who was in charge of what. Having a stroke does not automatically disqualify someone from signing or updating their estate plan. If there was an attorney involved at the time, that person would likely testify against you. Whether there is anything to pursue or a reason to do so are things that you will need to determine.

    I am sorry for your loss and I hope you are able to resolve your concerns.

    James Frederick

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  • Trust owns property- spouse given life estate - must maintain pay taxes and utilities what are trustees rights to property?

    trustee of fathers trust called- father died - found out spouse beneficiary of all money and life estate - but trust gets all personal property- spouse wants all property removed from house- she also wants nephew who is residing there out- (nephew...

    James’s Answer

    The answer to your questions is in the Trust document. Whatever it says is what you are bound by. If it is not clearly stated, you would need a lawyer to help you interpret what it says. I would strongly advise the Trustee of the Trust to have their own lawyer.

    James Frederick

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  • If the man your marrying is his own guardian doesn't he become your guardian when your married?

    At 29 my mom and a friend tricked me into sign paperwork to go to court for my guardianship. Can't get out and am engaged. My guardian keeps lying about me. We want to get married but the guardian keeps us apart for no reason. I am sick of the...

    James’s Answer

    The answer to your question is no. There is nothing automatic, in terms of an adult guardianship. When you first signed the paperwork, there must have been some reason to think that you were not capable of handling your own affairs. That included the right to consent to marriage. If your guardian does not consent to the marriage, then your recourse would be to go to the court and ask that the guardianship be modified or terminated. The judge will decide whether or not that can or should be done.

    If your guardian is willing to consent to the marriage, then that solves that one hurdle. The larger question is whether or not you currently need a guardian. If you do, then whether or not you should be marrying is also an issue.

    It is not clear whether or not you need an attorney to assist you with this, because all of the facts are not stated. If you are not sure how to proceed, contacting an attorney might be a good idea.

    James Frederick

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  • What recourse do I have on being billed for my sisters medical treatment?

    My sister lives in Texas and regularly sees a physician for her severe allergies. In the patient information she listed me as an emergency contact. Since she has been going there they have been billing me for the services. Initially I was not awa...

    James’s Answer

    You have no recourse for being falsely billed, other than to not pay the bill. You have no responsibility to pay the bill as the emergency contact of your sister. Under Michigan law, you are not responsible for her debts. In many other states, that is not the case. I am not sure about Texas law, in that respect, but Texas should not have any jurisdiction over you or your assets.

    If you ever act on behalf of your sister, whether it be under a Medical Power of Attorney form or in any other manner, be very careful about what you sign or agree to. You do not want to be "the responsible person." There are ways that you could agree to become liable, even though there is no liability, initially.

    James Frederick

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  • What can I do as a beneficiary to gain access to financial records the executor of my fathers estate is refusing to release?

    My father passed away 6 years ago and his estate closed just over 5 years ago. However, my father had a 5yr CD that he had allowed a personal friend to borrow against for a personal loan. I was told back then that we could not pull the CD money un...

    James’s Answer

    You are in a tough position. Since the estate has been closed for more than five years, the statute of limitations on the probate estate is long passed. It sounds like the CD was not part of the probate estate, but it is not clear if that is the case or not. If it was part of the estate, I would ask the PR to request a copy of the records and put him/her in touch with the person that you spoke with, who indicated that the records could be made available to the PR.

    If the CD was NOT an estate asset, then it is not clear how it was titled or who the owner of it was. Your rights, if any, may depend completely on that information; which may or may not be available to you.

    You can contact an attorney, but I am not sure what you can do, at this point. More information is needed, but I am not sure how you can get that. If the PR used an attorney, you might consider contacting the attorney to get an explanation as to what has taken place.

    James Frederick

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  • Can a spouse sell the other spouses vehicle?

    The husband bought the van, has been driving it for 9 months with plates registered to a different van he no longer owns do to having a photocopy of the title. The wife has the real title now and wants to sell it. Can she sell it since his name is...

    James’s Answer

    If the husband's name is not on the title, then the wife can sell it on her own. Of course, if you do not have possession of the van, then it could be problematic, in terms of finding/turning it over to the new buyer.

    James Frederick

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  • Currently renting a house from my mom. When she bought it, her and I both signed the deed. Do I have rights if I decide to buy?

    Been renting the house for two years, with intent to buy. No land contract. She purchased the home via conventional mortgage, and I have signed the deed. Do I have rights when I decide to buy it from her? I ask because she is looking to get fair m...

    James’s Answer

    Something here does not add up. You do not sign the deed; the seller signs the deed. It is not clear what you DID sign. Maybe the lease? It is not clear if you are on the mortgage or not, or if you are on the deed or not. If you are on the deed, you are considered a part owner. Depending on the form of ownership, you might be the sole owner, if something happened to your mom. You might not. If you are not on the mortgage, then it is very unlikely that you would be able to assume the loan. I am not sure why you would want to do that, though. If you are on the title but not on the loan, it is better for you, for the most part.

    You do not need to assume the loan, however. As long as the mortgage is kept current, there are no issues.

    It is not clear what is going on, at this point. Does your mother want you to buy her out? If that is the case and you are not a current owner of the property, you would presumably not only need to pay off the value of the mortgage, but also any equity that she has in the property. If you already are half owner, then is she looking for you to buy out 1/2 her interest? I don't know how you would do that, since you would need to pay the mortgage, as well.

    There are too many unknowns about your situation to offer you much guidance.

    James Frederick

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  • Statue of limitations on debt owed to father in laws estate after 12 years

    This is a promissory note dated for 4/ 2004 for over 10,000. The deceased passed away in 2008 and the executor failed to enter this note into the record for total assets of the deceased. The executor is threatening to sue me, or I can pay off th...

    James’s Answer

    The statute of limitations on breach of contract claims is 6 years in Michigan. Having said that, it would be necessary to review the note to determine whether there is any basis for the estate to pursue you. Was there a payment date specified in the note or was it payable on demand? If it was payable on demand, you can argue that that right "vested" as of the date of death of your father-in-law. That argument would be made in court, however. The PR can argue that it has now demanded payment and sue you. That would also be done in court.

    From a moral and ethical point of view, you are obligated to repay that money to the estate. There is no basis for you to retain the money AND double dip on your wife's inheritance.

    The failure of the PR to list the loan on the Inventory has no effect on your obligation, one way or another. Whether or not the note is legally enforceable, which is not clear from your facts, you should agree to the offset requested by the PR.

    James Frederick

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  • Do I have legal recourse for the situation described below?

    If an out-of-state family member steals personal property from your house while staying with you and then returns to their home state with the stolen property, do I have any recourse? (the property is a painting that was hanging on our dining roo...

    James’s Answer

    This is a very difficult situation. You can file both criminal and civil actions against the relative. But given the lack of actual value, it may be difficult to pursue either one. Evidence of ownership is also going to be a challenge. Getting jurisdiction in Michigan could also be a challenge. You could potentially sue in Texas, but that might be logistically difficult for you. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution, that I can see.

    James Frederick

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  • I moved into a house that had been abandoned for months how do I come to own the house?

    The house was abandoned I caught people stripping it out chased them off eventually I moved in the house to protect it. Now the landlord said he don't want the house anymore but wants me to pay him. If he abandoned the house why do I have to pay him?

    James’s Answer

    I agree with my colleagues. Two things that you can do, in order to get the price knocked down: 1) have the property appraised. It sounds like it may have been in "rough" condition, when you moved in. An appraiser can give you the fair market value of the property. The owner may be thinking it is worth far more than it actually is. An appraisal can help set things straight, in that regard. 2) You should also check the tax records on the property. If the owner abandoned the property, it is possible (and likely) that there are significant back taxes owing on the property. If those are not paid, the property will be forfeited to the State and/or County. It makes no sense for you to pay to own the property, only to find out that you need to pay additional money to bring the taxes up to date.

    If the owner is reminded of the extent of the tax liability, he may be less eager to gouge you on price. If you cannot reach an agreement with him, the property will eventually be sold at a tax sale. You would be free to bid on it, at that time, and you may be able to buy it for a very reasonable amount. The owner runs the risk of losing the property altogether, if your deal does not go through. It behooves him to be reasonable in your dealings.

    Having said that, you are not on super strong legal grounds. You could invest in the property, only to be evicted, if the owner thinks he can sell to someone else. I would clarify your position before investing significant funds or time into the property.

    Please keep in mind that all contracts relating to the sale of real estate need to be in writing, in order to be enforceable. You will probably want to have a lawyer handle this for you to make sure that all of your bases are covered.

    James Frederick

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