Michigan Probate Court hires attorney under criminal investigation

Last year we wrote about the scandal in Michigan’s probate system; about how some attorneys and real estate brokers were working together to cheat heirs out their inheritances, legally. Now another scandal has emerged with the news that Oakland County Probate Judges in Michigan have hired an attorney who is under criminal investigation.

We posted the WXYZ video story about this scandal last year.  Probate public administrator in Michigan cashes in on other people’s estates…legally

Barbara Andruccioli was one of the lawyers exposed by Detriot’s WXYZ 7 News investigation into collusion between probate attorneys and estate brokers to cheat heirs. She was recently hired by the Oakland County Probate Court at a taxpayer cost of $102,000/year. Channel 7 investigator asked Anruccioli,  “How can the taxpayers have any confidence with you working here?” Andruccioli answered, “Really, I think you probably need to talk to the judges.”

Andruccioli was a partner at Kemp Klein law firm and an Attorney General-appointed Public Administrator:  a public official with the authority to open probate estates after someone dies if there are no heirs available.

WXYZ reports

Andruccioli was a partner at Kemp Klein law firm. She was also an Attorney General-appointed Public Administrator, a public official with the authority to open probate estates after someone dies if there are no heirs available.

Court records show Andruccioli teamed up with real estate broker Ralph Roberts and his companies to open those estates, sell the homes, and cash in.

WXYZ uncovered court filings showing “Andruccioli and one of Roberts’ companies, Probate Asset Recovery, were billing for thousands of dollars, while the actual heirs ended up with very little.”

After the station’s investigation, Attorney General Bill Schuette terminated Andruccioli as a Public Administrator and the FBI and Oakland County Sheriff’s detectives raided Ralph Roberts offices, and launched a criminal probe into the Public Administrators.

Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown told the station that her reaction when she first heard of the hiring was “Shock, absolute shock and bewilderment…  So out of having a wonderful pool of applicants, why would you choose this person who has a cloud over them?”

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Estate planning for special needs children

Parents with special-needs children need to take special care when estate planning to insure their child will be provided for not only financially but also physically and emotionally. An article in Forbes by financial planner Christopher Young addresses these issues and suggests 4 financial planning considerations if you have a child with special needs.

“1. Do not make your special-needs child a beneficiary – naming them as a beneficiary in a will, retirement plan, insurance policy or other financial account may seem like the appropriate step to take, but it can have detrimental effects, including preventing the child from qualifying for federal benefits.  Programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) offer financial assistance to people with special-needs. However, to qualify for these programs, a special-needs person must have a limited amount of income and resources to their name. For example, to qualify for SSI, your child must have less than $2,000 in savings.

2. 529 ABLE Accounts – similar to 529 college-savings plans, these accounts will allow tax-free distributions if the dollars are used to pay for qualified expenses; including housing, employment training, assistive technology and personal support.  ABLE accounts can hold up to $100,000 in assets without jeopardizing the beneficiary’s eligibility for federal benefits. Families can contribute up to the maximum gift exclusion each year, $15,000 for 2018. To qualify for an ABLE account, disability must have been occurred prior to your child’s 26th birthday.”

Read the full article: 4 Important Financial Planning Considerations If You Have A Child With Special Needs

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‘Bama probate judge candidate has video response to campaign sign mustache vandal

An attorney running for probate judge in Lawrnce County, Alabama had one of her campaign signs defaced with a mustache. She responded with a humorous Facebook video with her wearing a fake mustache

“Hello Lawrence County, Laura Terry Powell here and I mustache you a question…,” she said, then urged people to register to vote in the June 5 primary.

“All jokes aside, I’m sorry to the Hatton community for this eyesore. “I’m going to attempt to scrub it off today and if that doesn’t work we’ll get it fixed as soon as possible.”

You can view the video here:




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Probate referee appointed in Carrie Fisher estate

A Los Angeles judge appointed a probate referee to appraise the late actress Carrie Fisher’s estate. In a one-page order issued Thursday by a Superior Court judge named Zachary Seff the duties of evaluating all interest, inheritance, transfers and property of the late actress/author’s estate. The estate is rumored to be worth $6.8 million.

The estate’s administrator, Dennis King was ordered earlier by Commissioner Brendy Penny to file a status report or a petition for final distribution by September 10th. The actress’ will asks that the residue of the estate be made part of the Carrie Fisher Living Trust. King is the trustee of the trust and the instrument’s beneficiary is Fisher’s daughter, 25-year-old actress Billie Catherine Lourd. Created on Jan. 15, 2016, the will states the executor is authorized to pay the estate’s federal, state and inheritance taxes and to use his discretion regarding the preliminary and final distribution of property.

Known for playing Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” film series, the 60 year-old Fisher died Dec. 27, 2016, a day before the death of her mother, 84 year-old Debbie Reynolds..


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Intestate succession in New York City

Determining who “legally gets what” would have been provided with an effective will, as these are the decedent’s last wishes. In the event that one passes without leaving behind a will, dying “intestate” means the decedent loses the opportunity to control who will be the recipient of their assets. Intestacy laws, therefore, determine whether or not assets will be distributed to their legal partner, children, parents, siblings, or other relatives.

This can be done without discretion of the individual relationship between the decedent and that relative. Unfortunately, these relatives could possibly have had almost no contact, if any, with the decedent, making intestate succession an often unsatisfactory alternative. If the decedent did not take the time to draft a last will that clearly and concisely expresses their intentions regarding the disposition of their estate, anything can happen. Sentimentality will undoubtedly clash with practicality as relatives and families attempt to divide the estate and assets, and an unnecessary burden will be placed on all surviving relatives. In the event the decedent has no surviving relatives, the entire probate estate will escheat to the state of New York.

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