Claimed Lawyer ProfileQ&A
- Elder Law
- Estate Planning
- Social Security Disability
- Military Law
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
- 6th Circuit
- Owner and Elder Law Attorney
- Up North Elder Law, PLC
- - Current
- Elder Law Attorney
- Swogger, Bruce & Millar Law Firm, P.C.
- - Current
- Legal Counsel
- Bay Area Caskets, LLC
- - Current
- Rizzo & Associates, PLC
- Associate Attorney
- Dingeman, Dancer & Christopherson, PLC
- University of Detroit Mercy School of Law
- J.D. (1998)
- Emory University School of Law
- University of Miami
- B.A. (1995) | Political Science
- State Bar of Michigan # P58946
- Grand Traverse-Leelanau-Antrim Bar Association
22 Questions Answered
- Q. Is there any way to know if a loved ones will was put through will contest and then found to be invalid?
- A: You should contact the probate court for the county the loved one lived in when they passed away. If there was a will contest it would be in the court records. If you are not sure of the county, you can call other counties in the area and any counties where the loved one used to live. There is no universal database; it takes some investigation. If a will was found invalid, one probate court will have the records.
- Q. My brother is moms legal conservator and I am her legal guardian. She has an old will. Will we avoid probate or no?
- A: Generally, a will does not avoid probate. Many different factors can determine if a probate is needed, or not. For example, does she own real property? If she does, how is it titled? If she owns real property that is only in her name, you will need to probate her estate. If she does not own real property, and all her bank accounts and investments have beneficiary designations, there would most likely be no need for a probate, regardless of the status of the will. You should contact a Michigan estate planning attorney for a free consultation. Your question should be easy to answer with a little more information.
- Q. My dad recently passed away, my brother has access to all paperwork and says there was no will, how do I know the truth?
- A: If your father used an attorney or firm, you may be able to get information about any documents. Sometimes you can track down an attorney through passing comments, business cards, branded sticky notes, etc. The same advice would work for the IRAs, you would be looking for any mention of a financial planner or insurance salesman. Tax preparers are also a good source of information. You can check with the probate court for any counties he resided in on the off chance he filed a will.
- Q. Would you be able to help me with my Ssi I have been denied once case closed and help me get a divorce?
- A: Have you tried contacting a legal aid provider in Kalamazoo? Please move quickly because of the appeal deadline. Here is a link to one: https://www.lawestmi.org/location/kalamazoo. Legal aid should be familiar with both issues and you will want a local attorney to handle the issues. You could also try to attend an Ask a Lawyer event run by the local bar association: http://www.kpl.gov/law-library/ask.aspx
- Q. Parent's bank CD: no beneficiary; no will. I'm only child/heir. What probate forms required? Can CD amt be kept private?
- A: It depends on the size of the CD. If it is below $23,000 you can use a form called PC 598, Affidavit of Decedent's Successor for Delivery of Certain Assets Owned by the Decedent. There is no probate court involvement. Fill out the form, sign it before a notary public, attach the death certificate(s), and give it to the bank. This will keep the process private. If it is over $23,000, you will need to open a probate estate. Depending on the value and the cost of final expenses you might be able to use the small estate process. Otherwise, you will need to open a traditional probate estate. If you are the only heir and it is only the one asset, legal fees for the estate should be on the lower end of the spectrum.
- Q. The state of Michigan named a guy the father of my two kids by default. He's not on birth
- A: I do not think that the state trying to get reimbursement from him for the assistance you received gives him any legal rights to the children. He could file a paternity action to get rights to the child that is his, but if he has not done that and he is not on the birth certificate, I do not see how he currently would have any rights.
- Q. Can my stepmom step down as personal representative and allow me the heir be the new personal rep?
- A: If she is the personal representative and has some interest in the house through the will, she could simply disclaim the interest to the house, deed the property to you, and close the probate. I don't think you would need a ladybird deed for the purposes of your father's estate unless your stepmother wanted an interest in the house so she could possibly sell it at some point. If she wants nothing from the house it should be possible to deed it to you and close the estate. You will need representation to work out the details.
- Q. How can I find a missing insurance policy? I have searched retirement and bank account holders.
- A: I would suggest looking at her tax returns to see if the insurance company provided any documentation of interest or earnings. If you are still the conservator, you could send your letters of authority to the biggest insurance companies to see if they have any records. Many times a policy will be sold by a financial planner or insurance agent. If you know of one your mom worked with you could contact them. Otherwise, you can look through her records and documentation in the home and see if you can find any names.
- Q. My father is 84 and recently moved into a senior apartment and is concerned about earnings from the sale of his house.
- A: If your father is single, the proceeds from the sale of the house would count against his $2,000 asset limit for Medicaid long-term care benefits. He would need to consult an elder law attorney to create a plan to save the proceeds, or spend it down, usually by paying the nursing home until the cash is depleted. You could plan at any time, even after he is in the nursing home. However, there is a five-year look back period for Medicaid that would penalize any outright gifts. The Medicaid rules are complex, and most elder law attorneys give free consultations. If his senior apartment is subsidized in some way there is a possibility that the proceeds could disqualify him from the benefit.
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