Dying in debt

Pretty much everyone dies with some amount of debt, Mostly it’s run-of-the-mill bills. But there can be some debt that can shock heirs, especially if they didn’t know about it. Creditors need to be paid so the question is, so does all debt need to be settled? The short answer is: that depends.

Your liability depends on the nature of your debt. Mortgages and other debt secured by property must be paid, while unsecured debt such as credit cards and student loans, are another matter entirely. Your liability depends very much on the nature of the bill, the type of property and your state’s laws. The following applies to New York State.

If an accounting of your debts exceed the value of your estate, probate may not be the way to go. If there’a not enough money in your estate to pay your creditors, a court will have to make a settlement which is an additional cost to the estate. There are instances where it might be advisable to proceed with probate, but you should obtain experienced counsel before proceeding. The Law Offices of Jeffrey Weinstein can help you navigate this process. Call us for a free consultation. 347-305-8752.

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Tops to close 10 underperfoming NY State stores

This past May a NYC bankruptcy judge gave the bankruptcy beleagured Tops Supermarket chain permission to close 10 of its underperforming stores in New York State, but the chain refused to say which stores would be shuttered. This past August that changed. The following are the ten stores that will be closing.

  • 2120 West Genesee St., Syracuse
  • 4141 South Salina St., Syracuse
  • 710 Lake Ave., Rochester
  • 175 N. Winton Road, Rochester
  • 6720 Pittsford/Palmyra Road, Fairport
  • 33 Forgham St., Lyons
  • 381 Hamilton St., Geneva
  • 909 West 1st St. S., Fulton
  • 299 S. Main St., Elmira
  • 622 Lake Flower Ave., Saranac Lake

Frank Curci, Tops’ chief executive officer told the Buffalo News, “There are a few stores that are not performing to our standards, due to a number of factors including location, store size, lack of visibility, and lease costs. “We are using the tools available to us through the court-supervised process to conduct an orderly wind down of these stores.”

The ten stores slated to close are scheduled to shutter by the end of November.

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A giant problem: Chinese don’t have wills.

 The world’s most populous nation, China has the second-largest economy and one of the highest savings rates and mushrooming wealth. Yet virtually no one has a will, and that’s a big problem.

 The first generation, thirty years after China embarked on a course that allowed individuals to accumulate wealth, is statring to die. This dieoff is creating a spike in inheritance disputes that are clogging up the courts and turning families against each other.

The problem has gotten so bad that even the ruling Communist Party is concerned.

 “When people die without a will their children scramble for their property, damaging family ties and having a negative effect on society,”

According to the best estimates, only 1% of China’s 220 million seniors have estate plans, The reason is, in China talking about death and writing a will is the same as putting a curse on yourself.

Even the rich and educated often don’t write them.

 Hu Xingdou, an economist at the Beijing Institute of Technology was quoted as saying.  “China is entering a crucial period. If we don’t find a way to transfer wealth responsibly it will affect social stability.”

To solve this burgeoning problem, the government has looked to local town and villages to create free legal centers for those over 60. One lawyer,  Chen Kai, has stepped up and created a charity called  the China Will Registration Center which has processed over 40,000 wills in last year.

An article in the People’s Daily said 70% of inheritance cases in Beijing courts stem from the lack of a will. In the cases where a will is challenged, 60% are found to be invalid.

While the situation in the U.S. isn’t quite as bad, it is pretty serious. Experts say almost 60% of people don’t have wills. A we have written here before, depending on the size of your estate, you need at bare minimum, a will. If you need help planning your estate please call us, The Law Offices of Jeffrey Weinstein 347-305-8752 for a free consultation regarding your estate needs.

 

 

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Ways to prevent elder abuse

The second man to walk on the moon, 88-year-old 88 Buzz Aldrin is fighting his two youngest children who he claims are colluding with his former manager Christina Korp to seize control of his estate by alleging that he has dementia. He sued the trio in a Florida court in June. Korp and the Aldrin children deny wrongdoing and blame Aldrin’s “increased confusion and memory loss.”

Wherever the truth lies, what is happening to Aldrin is becoming more and more common and not just to the rich and famous. The exploitation of the elderly is growing and is vastly underreported.

Julie Schoen of the National Center on Elder Abuse told AARP, “It’s such a hidden crime. Within families, victims don’t want to prosecute. There’s a huge gap in our system when it comes to recording these crimes. We need better research. Ninety percent of perpetrators are family members or other people the victim knows well, such as caretakers, neighbors or friends.

Schoen suggests some ways to help protect you and your aged loved ones.

  • When a person is still mentally sharp, help him or her make a plan that designates power of attorney and health care directives. “We tend to want to keep financial matters private, but if we don’t have those discussions, that’s what blows things apart.”
  • Stay connected with older loved ones through regular phone calls, visits or emails.
  • Develop a relationship with your parent’s caregiver. “They’ll be less likely to financially exploit Mother because they know you’re paying attention.”
  • Become a “trusted contact” to monitor bank account and brokerage activity.
  • Sign up for a service such as EverSafe to track financial activity and notify an advocate of unusual withdrawals or spending.
  • Set up direct deposit for checks so others don’t have to cash them.
  • Do not sign any documents that you don’t understand.

If you need legal help protecting an aging loved one, please call us here at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey Weinstein.   347-305-8752.

 

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The curious case of the homeless millionaire

Colorado’s probate courts have been mired in controversy for years. Two state audits in the last eleven years have found screening and monitoring of guardians and conservators as lacking. There have also been instances of neglect, theft, fraud and a general lack of accountability. Attempts to reform, the system has been moving at a glacial pace.

One person caught up in this mess is homeless millionaire Alan Fantin. That’s right, a homeless millionaire.  Fantin has a net worth in the millions but he has had trouble getting accessing it for years. He has been under a conservatorship that was created thirty years ago after a car accident left him with a severe head injury and partial paralysis.

He owns a house which is mostly paid off. But right now it’s ridden with black mold and there are squatters in the basement who don’t pay rent and won’t leave. And Fantin hasn’t been allowed near the house since he was arrested last month and charged with assaulting his live-in girlfriend. His pre-trial monitoring says he can’t come within one-mile of his alleged victim’s residence, which is also his home, or it it was.

On top of all that he is currently engaged in a legal tussle with the guy who controls his funds, a court-appointed conservator named Scott Christian. Christian was appointed in early 2015. Since then the two have battled constantly over financial matters, ranging from the amount of Fantin’s cable bills to his marijuana use. Christian has described Fantin’s weed smoking as a “substance abuse habit.”

Fantin has had a license to use marijuana for medical purposes since 2001.

In a report in Westword, Fantin says the weed helps him with the seizures he’s bee experiencing since his accident. “When I run out of pot, my seizures are more aggressive and they tend to last longer.”

Westword also reports

…Christian refused to provide any funds for his lodging after he was banned from his house; directed him to use a public defender in his domestic-violence case rather than hire his own attorney; threatened to cut off his phone if he continued to complain; and has been less and less responsive to Fantin’s pleas for help even as his firm’s fees for the conservatorship have steadily increased.

The case offers a rare glimpse behind the closed doors of probate court, where a professional cadre of attorneys, care managers, estate administrators and others are entrusted with guarding the interests and funds of some of society’s most vulnerable people. In many instances, they may be doing just that, protecting the elderly, the sick, the mentally or physically disabled from unscrupulous relatives or neighbors — and sometimes protecting them from themselves.

It’s a fascinating story which we suggest you read. Homeless Millionaire Alan Fantin Wants His Day in Probate Court

 

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