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Questions Answered by John Joseph Rizzo III

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Michigan on

Q: Is there any way to know if a loved ones will was put through will contest and then found to be invalid?

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Jul 17, 2018

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.... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Michigan on

Q: My brother is moms legal conservator and I am her legal guardian. She has an old will. Will we avoid probate or no?

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Feb 12, 2018

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... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Michigan on

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?

I believe there are several IRA accounts my dad had and that my brother is keeping them from me. I don't know how to find out if he is just claiming he is the only child and therefore entitled to all his benefits

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Feb 6, 2018

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... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Divorce and Social Security for Michigan on

Q: Would you be able to help me with my Ssi I have been denied once case closed and help me get a divorce?

I am legally married in Upstate New York I reside in Kalamazoo MI.. I am homeless and terminally ill please help me

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Feb 5, 2018

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...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Michigan on

Q: Parent's bank CD: no beneficiary; no will. I'm only child/heir. What probate forms required? Can CD amt be kept private?

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Feb 5, 2018

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... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Family Law, Child Custody, Child Support and Public Benefits for Michigan on

Q: The state of Michigan named a guy the father of my two kids by default. He's not on birth

certificate and they do have His Last name. I was receiving state assistance at the time. Do he have legal rights to them? No DNA test was done.No contact from with him in 7yrs, do not know where he lives. I want to change their last name? He only fathered one child after figuring out actual... Read more »

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Feb 2, 2018

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... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Michigan on

Q: Can my stepmom step down as personal representative and allow me the heir be the new personal rep?

Only the house is left in the estate which is keeping probate open. We are looking to do a Lady bird deed, but she doesn't want the house at all in her name. She has her own house and only wants 1 house in her name. Can we transfer the ownership from the personal representative to me, and let me go... Read more »

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Feb 2, 2018

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... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law for Michigan on

Q: How can I find a missing insurance policy? I have searched retirement and bank account holders.

I cannot find the policy and have searched her retirement and bank accounts. I was her conser/guardian and completed the probate process in 2014, A sister also came in and helped with caretaking after mom was diagnosed with dementia and deemed incompetent in 2011. I suspect this policy was... Read more »

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Feb 2, 2018

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... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law and Real Estate Law for Michigan on

Q: My father is 84 and recently moved into a senior apartment and is concerned about earnings from the sale of his house.

When the house is sold and the mortgage paid off, what is the best way to deal with any earnings he may have? And how will the earnings impact is ability to received medicaid if he needs to move to a nursing home?

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Feb 2, 2018

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... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law for Michigan on

Q: Do spouses automatically have power of attorney for their partner in cases of dementia?

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Feb 2, 2018

The answer is no. If a legal power of attorney was never signed the spouse would have no power over assets solely in the other spouse's name. The probate court would have to appoint a conservator to handle those assets. In practice, many couples hold their assets jointly and the competent spouse... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law for Michigan on

Q: My dad has Alzheimer's and he got married while after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's now his wifewant to be guardian

I was just served with the papers on September 1st she file for guardianship on August 11th the court date is September 18th at 10:30 at in Detroit Michigan what can I do

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Feb 2, 2018

A spouse would normally have first priority as a guardian, but that is only a starting point. If she is not the best person to serve as guardian, you can object in court and ask for a different person to be appointed. The fact that he had Alzheimer's before the marriage is not relevant unless he... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law for Michigan on

Q: Am I responsible for my elder parents care if I haven't seen or talked to them in 20 years due to abuse

My parents live 9 hrs away I live in Michigan they live in Michigan also I have 3 sisters only 1 will talk to them none of us have money and none of us want them to live with us I do not want either my mom or dad living with me nor do I feel I should be responsible for paying for a nursing home or... Read more »

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Feb 2, 2018

You have no legal obligation to pay debts of your parents unless you sign an agreement to do so. In the situation you describe, I do not feel you could be legally compelled to contribute to any of their debts.

1 Answer | Asked in Social Security for Michigan on

Q: I’m on disability. I’ll be 65 this year. How will my benefits change. I’m also divorced

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Feb 2, 2018

This answer assumes you are receiving SSDI, not SSI. If 65 is your full retirement age, you would be shifted from the SSDI to RSDI. Your payment amount would remain the same, it would just be paid from a different program. It will happen automatically and is really just an accounting entry for... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Social Security, Tax Law, Public Benefits and Immigration Law for Michigan on

Q: Concerning federal poverty level. Are disabled ssdi and veterans benefits countable income for poverty chart?

For government immigration form fee waiver.

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Jan 30, 2018

I believe the answer could change based on the facts. For instance, many people use SSDI and SSI interchangeably when they are very different programs. If you receive SSI, you should be automatically eligible for the fee waiver. If you receive SSDI, that will probably count against you when... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Michigan on

Q: Do you have to have an attorney to put a will through probate?

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Jan 30, 2018

You do not have to have an attorney to probate a will. However, unless it is a very simple estate, an attorney could actually save you money and prevent any missteps. Depending on the county, the probate court staff may help you decide if you should hire an attorney (even though they really... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Michigan on

Q: My father died in 2009 and stepmom 2018. Stepmom had no kids. With no will, who's in line for estate in Michigan?

They were married 38 years when my father died. They had a trust(apparently) with friend named to make decisions on finances but he is not being cooperative or transparent and dragging his feet about getting us a copy of trust. We live in South Carolina and logistics are difficult. We're doubting... Read more »

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Jan 30, 2018

Absent a different provision in the estate plan, your stepmom would have received $150,000, plus 1/2 any balance of your father's estate upon his death. Because she had no will, her default beneficiaries in Michigan would be, in the following order, (1) stepmom's parents, (2) stepmom's siblings,... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Michigan on

Q: I just received a letter from the Michigan Probate Court, Notice of Deficiency. I must appear in court.

The notice says I am missing "Notice of Continued Administration and/or Sworn Statement to Close Unsupervised Administration, Proof of Service has not been filed". The Attorney I hired was supposed to have closed the estate 2 years ago. I returned the signed and Notarized, "Sworn Statement to... Read more »

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Jan 30, 2018

The proof of service lets the court know that you have served all the interested parties with the sworn statement to close. The interested parties are usually the other heirs. Sometimes a creditor may need to receive the sworn statement to close, and sometimes a government agency needs to receive... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Michigan on

Q: I had been taking care of my mother who had dementia in her home for the last four years. I never received any help.

from my siblings. My mother has passed and all her possessions are in a trust which is being split equally by the three of us. No one is helping me pack up the house, (I am disabled and it is causing me physical pain) or pay for any utilities, or insurance. They feel it is my responsibility because... Read more »

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Jan 29, 2018

There is no law that would prevent your claim. You can try to bill the estate for the care you provided, but be prepared for a fight. Your sister is the trustee, controlling the money. She will most likely use trust assets to fight your claim; you would usually be required to use your own assets... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Michigan on

Q: If I'm married, is it okay for me to make a will and leave my spouse out of it?

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Jan 19, 2018

You can leave your spouse out of the will, but she will still have statutory rights to a good portion of your probate estate. A simple trust would most likely serve your purposes better. The other option is to have her sign a document releasing her statutory rights. The second option would... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Michigan on

Q: Mom passed and had a trust but did not add her home to it so we had to probate her home, how do i get it into the trust.

the home is still in probate waiting to sell can I transfer it to her trust before its sold? the estate is left to 5 grand kids 1/4 and 3 children 1/4 each

John Joseph Rizzo III answered on Jan 19, 2018

Assuming the time for creditors to present claims has expired, you can transfer the property into the trust. Getting it into the trust is most likely the best way to handle the situation. It is usually good to be able to close the probate when an extended wait is possible. It will make the... Read more »

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