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Questions Answered by Benjamin Z. Katz
1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for New York on
Q: I am gifting my house to my son but can I use a warranty deed instead of a gift deed in New York State
Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Oct 10, 2019

Yes. A warranty deed means you, the transferor, are guaranteeing that you hold title to property. A quitclaim deed does not make that guarantee. Many gifts are made by quitclaim deed because they don’t have that warranty. Both are proper.

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for New York on
Q: Are a will and a health Proxy made in the state of MA (3 years ago) are valid in the state of NY?
Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Oct 4, 2019

If the Will and HCP are valid in MA then they are valid in all states. However, if you have permanently moved, it is best to have both reviewed by a NY attorney. Some, like myself, will do that at no charge.

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1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for New York on
Q: Found a dog but could not find its owner. What are my rights?

My fiance and I found a dog walking around without a tag, and couldn't find out where she came from. We posted and checked lost dog groups on Facebook, checked the area and surrounding areas frequently but did not see any posters. We planned to foster the dog until we found the owner but it's been... Read more »

Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Oct 4, 2019

To apply for a dog license, most municipalities only require proof of vaccinations. However, before you do all that you must report to local law enforcement and check with local animal shelters. If you don't, any claim to ownership will be jeopardized for the future. You should also post... Read more »

3 Answers | Asked in Banking, Criminal Law and Estate Planning for New York on
Q: Can a joint account holder deposit a check into their account if the check is made out to someone who passed away?

Mother received a large check from retirement account and she passed away before cashing it. Her boyfriend deposited the check into their joint account several days after her passing and then closed the account once the check cleared. He now has the money and is refusing to give it to the children.... Read more »

Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Sep 28, 2019

If he endorsed a check made payable to your deceased mother he committed fraud. You can call the police and/or DA to report it.

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1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for New York on
Q: How do I report suspected animal neglect or abuse? What specific website or phone number can I call to report neglect?

One of my neighbors leaves their dog outside in their yard unattended at least once or twice a week. The dogs nose has some redness on it, because the dog burrowed some small holes in front of the fence and it sometimes tries to stick it's nose under the fence while barking at people who pass it. I... Read more »

Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Sep 25, 2019

There are several places to report abuse and neglect. The local police department, NYSPCA, Humane Society and even Attorney General’s office. However, what you are describing may not rise to the level of neglect or abuse that would trigger a visit by any of those agencies.

2 Answers | Asked in Contracts, Estate Planning and Entertainment / Sports for New York on
Q: How would you know if there's a will left and not just thrown away?
Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Sep 25, 2019

If you believe there was a Will you would check where the decedent kept important papers, get in touch with their attorney or check with the local Surrogate’s Court to see if it was filed. If there is a safe deposit box many times people make the mistake of putting their Will there.... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for New York on
Q: Can the police in New York refuse to take a police report for a stolen dog.

A groomer I use to groom my dog Oreo surrendered a dog in her care to me in June because she was not allowed to have more than two pets in her home. I have text messages of the conversation we had regarding her surrendering me the dog. The dog has now been in my care since then and my families care... Read more »

Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Sep 20, 2019

Yes the police may refuse if they don't believe a crime has occurred. Based upon what you wrote, the police probably consider this a civil matter. You can bring an action against the groomer in court if you wish to pursue this. The action can seek return of Olive and/or damages for your... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Probate for New York on
Q: Is an administrator’s deed needed?

A family member passed away without a will leaving his wife and adult children. His name was on the deed for their home. His wife applied for and received letters of administration. Does she need to use an administrator’s deed to transfer the property to herself? If she does, would she only... Read more »

Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Sep 15, 2019

Yes. An Administrator’s Deed is the correct instrument for the transfer. Transfer taxes may not be required If there is no consideration for the transfer. However, if the property has a mortgage, relief of the mortgage obligation is consideration.

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1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law, Health Care Law and Nursing Home Abuse for New York on
Q: My 85 year old Grandmother is in a nursing home do to mental illness. She is now refusing any and all care. Need advice

My grandmother has been diagnosed with dementia. For the last 6 months she has been refusing to take her medication, which then brings out the very worst in her. Paranoia takes over she picks at her skin to remove probes that control her. It's now to the point where her legs are swollen, inflamed... Read more »

Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Sep 12, 2019

If you believe she is incapable of making decisions for herself you can use the health care proxy. If the medical facility refuses to recognize it or believe she is still competent to make these decisions you will need to have the courts intervene. Generally, it is done by seeking Guardianship of... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for New York on
Q: If I find a dog on the street that doesn’t have owner atm because there’s no posters and a friend went around and asked

And I give it away under the impression there’s no owner and I can’t take care by myself and then the owner pops up the next day and I don’t have it anymore and can’t get it back could I be in trouble I didn’t sell it or anything but I had a family member hold it and they gave it away can... Read more »

Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Sep 11, 2019

It doesn’t sound like anything you did would be considered illegal, reckless or negligent. However, many pets are microchipped and it is best to get in touch with a local pet association to have the best chances of reuniting pets with their owners.

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for New York on
Q: The father of my son and ex-husband, bought a house i Garland, Texas, and he was paying a mortgage. He was living with h

His mom, new wife, His sister and nephew. His mom passed away in March, and he passed away a month ago, leaving no will. My son was His only child. Does my son has More rights over that property than His father's widow? Also my son's father was registered as the only owner of tittle of the... Read more »

Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Sep 8, 2019

Both your son and your ex’s widow have rights to the property. You need to speak with a Texas attorney since that is where you ex lived and the property is located.

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for New York on
Q: What form do I need for legally-binding after-death instructions?

I want to leave legally-binding instructions for how my body should be treated and how my burial should go. The more I refresh my knowledge of wills the more it seems like perhaps I need something else. What do I need? It has to be legally-binding and not cost me thousands of dollars. Thanks

Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Sep 1, 2019

Generally those instructions are made part of your Will. If you don’t want to draft a new Will you can add a codicil to the Will. If you leave separate instructions or set up a burial fund it would not be legally binding unless referenced in you Will. Neither a new Will nor a codicil should cost... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Probate for New York on
Q: I am the eldest daughter of a man who just died; he has a common law "spouse" and another daughter. What are my rights?

The common law wife was previously his legal wife but they divorced; the other daughter is theirs. I'm currently in New York, he lived in Texas. I do not know if he had a will, or what is "estate" consists of and am not sure I will be considered when everything is reviewed. What are my rights?

Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Aug 26, 2019

If he left a Will that would control. If not, Texas law will dictate who is a beneficiary of the estate. If they divorced she might not be considered a common law wife. You should consult a Texas estate attorney to determine what your next steps should be.

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1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law for New York on
Q: If disabled brother doesn't get $86k inheritance until age 65, is there a way to protect the money from Medicaid?

I am executor. Brother has cancer and turns 65 in 2 months. I understand a trust can be used before 65. After that, Medicaid is secondary insurance to Medicare. Brother is not in long term care. He gets retirement social security income. Does he potentially lose less to Medicaid once he is on... Read more »

Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Aug 24, 2019

It is better to be on Medicare to minimize expenses. Once he receives his inheritance, he may not qualify for Medicaid coverage, if he current qualifies, without spending down first. However, there are planning techniques to protect a portion of the money if he needs to spend down.

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for New York on
Q: Hi , My grandmother passed away and left me stocks in her Will. The lawyer told us the money from the stocks that were

sold need to stay in escrow for a year ? Is that common ? Just trying to find out why it will take a year to get the funds

Thanks

Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Aug 20, 2019

Does not sound right.

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1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for New York on
Q: Do I legally own my cat after adopting him from a rescue organization?

Months after adopting my cat from a rescue organization, the organization continues to contact me regularly for updates on the cat. They refer to him as “their” cat. I see that I signed an adoption agreement agreeing to never let him outdoors, and to never give him to another owner unless the... Read more »

Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Aug 20, 2019

He is your cat. As far as letting him outdoors, that may be because of medical or emotional conditions that he may have. You can certainly ask them why they have that provision. As far as the vetting provision, it is pretty common with rescue agencies. They don't forget about animals that they... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for New York on
Q: Ex is the legal owner of our dog. I paid for her and I take care of her, financially and physically. Can I get custody
Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Aug 15, 2019

Although property rights generally apply to pets, more and more courts are looking past those rights to do what is best under a totality of the circumstances. So, the answer is that it is possible but will depend upon the specific facts.

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for New York on
Q: Is it protocol for all the siblings to have to turn in their notarized letter before you can receive your check?

Estate was finally settled after 7 years. We received a letter stating the sum of what each sibling will get but before we can get check all siblings have to return notarized letter? Is this protocol?

Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Aug 13, 2019

Yes. A receipt and release acknowledges that you are agreeing to receive certain proceeds from the estate and releasing the estate from further liability. If you do not believe that the proceeds are correct then you should dispute it now. Once you sign and accept the proceeds you will not be... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for New York on
Q: Can I have a cat/ with new born kittens removed from a home legally to avoid it dying from severe neglect?

I’m terrified this mother cat will starve . There’s no cat food. I shared my cats food against the owners wishes. I provided cat litter . This cat will run out of milk. She’s imaciated . Thin as rails, I was staying at the home for a week or so and did my best to share what I had just so this... Read more »

Benjamin Z. Katz
Benjamin Z. Katz answered on Aug 6, 2019

To report animal neglect you can call the Attorney General helpline at 1-866-697-3444. If you don’t get results from that office I suggest calling your local humane society to get guidance for your area.

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