Estate Law

Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.

Ask a Lawyer,
Get an Answer ASAP!

Estate Law

I would like to seek your advice on a property. Its kind of

Customer Question
Hello- I would like to seek...
Hello-
I would like to seek your advice on a property. Its kind of a long messy story.
My uncle (86 years old!) owns a business that is run on the property in which I own 1/4 interest of the building and grounds by inheritance.
This property was held in trust. My mother and my uncle each had equal shares in property. My mother passed in 2000. Her 1/2 was distributed to me and my brother. My brother passed away last year. He had no will and no surviving family just me. I am concerned with some possible malpractice issues? with attorney. So for many years my brother and I received "rent" payments from my uncle and also paid our 1/4 property taxes. The original OLD lease stated that my brother and I were to pay the property tax rate as of 1976 forever. It is clearly stated that is was not supposed to get higher as taxes increased. Now brother is gone. about 7 mos before my brother passed my father died. I went to the attorney that prepared his will. I did not know this but he told me that he is the attorney for my uncle and his business and property (mine too). I had never had any involvement with the property...I just paid my taxes and trusted my uncle to handle things. SO this attorney handles my fathers estate. I never signed a retainer with him for my dad....I didnt know better at the time. anyway...so he tells me that he and my uncle are trying to terminate the trust and that it was messy and basically got the feeling like...its not your worry. Thats all he told me. I was grieving my father at the time and had lots to take care of. I then get a letter from the attorney months later...stating that "as you know the the estate has terminated" (which I did not) and that I owed back taxes for the rate increase. I also found out the trust had terminated nearly a year earlier and they never told me! It terminated about a month before my brother died. They had no idea he was sick. So this lease has been null and void for a very long time and I had no idea. Also during this time and not knowing what was going on with property, I had asked this attorney to help me start with my brothers estate he died in Indiana. He kept putting me off and avoiding my requests. So now I realize, I think he purposely did not help me with my brother stuff (and he couldnt anyway since he died in Indiana and we are all in Wisconsin) that he knew that the property would need to transfer into my name. Therefore, I would own half now. Since he represents my uncle he probably didnt want to help me with that. My husband and I called him on the first letter in which had also stated that " your property ownership has now increased to 25% and your uncle owns 75%. I could not believe it! I already clearly owned 25% and it should now be 50%. It was a lie and they were trying to get away with it. In the meantime my uncle has lied to me and when I confronted him with many questions and asked to sit down with him he refuses to talk to me. PLUS, this attorney told the new attorney I hired to help me this property issue .."the property is contaminated and you should just leave this alone!" What? anyway the new att. that i hired to help me was little help after that and just dropped me. I am so confused on what to do. But I smell a RAT! Now I "owe" a big tax bill...
Submitted: 2 years ago.Category: Estate Law
Show More
Show Less
Ask Your Own Estate Law Question
Answered in 21 hours by:
10/13/2015
Estate Lawyer: rsa.esq, Lawyer replied 2 years ago
rsa.esq
rsa.esq, Lawyer
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 73
Experience: Sworn to the California Bar in 2011. Former staff editor at The New York Times Co. and seasoned news professional of 20 years experience in the U.S. and abroad.
Verified

Your instincts do you credit: much of this scenario does not fit together.

Now, as a matter of full disclosure, be aware that I am licensed to practice in California and not Wisconsin; the nature of this forum precludes giving specific legal advice on specific circumstances. However, I can speak generally with respect to legal principles involved.

First, you state a scenario where the property was "held in trust."

But some clarification is needed:

Legally, a trust is a relationship with respect to property: Property "held in trust" is actually deeded in the name of the named trusteee, who has a fiduciary duty to managed the property for the benefit of named beneficiaries.

So, describing ownership proportions of property specific "held in trust" does not make sense, and isn't possible.

So the first step is to understand exactly who owned the property and in what form.

This can be determined by reviewing a copy of the deed on file whereever your local property records are kept -- city hall or county hall of records, etc. Be sure to also check the tax records on the property -- who is listed to pay and past due charges.

Once the exact nature of ownership is determined, anyone who thinks they may have had an ownership interest can then determine what their current interest is, and take action to secure it.

From your scenario, it sounds like the property was held either as a tenancy in common or joint tenancy.

It will depend on the exact wording of the deed: the basic difference is who receives the interest in the property on death of one of the co-owners.

In the scenario you describe, because property interests were being transferred by inheritance, I deduce the property was owned as a tenancy in common. And further, I deduce that the owners of the minority proportions, such as yourself and your late brother, merely by consensus allowed your uncle to manage the property.

Tenants in common, regardless of the proportion of their ownership interest, enjoy full right to the entire property. Though it is often true, as described, fractional owners allow the largest proportion-holder to manage it or use it. But the minority proportion-holders are still entitled to their share of the rent or sale, etc.

Unfortunately, they are also responsible for their proportional share of the taxes -- even past due back taxes.

So I am sorry to say, any past due tax bill on that property delievered to proportional owner may well be valid if they indeed possessed a proportion of ownership all these years.

The "lease" you mentioned also does not seem to fit into this scenario.

Also, as a general rule, one tenant in common cannot sell the property without consent of the other tenants in common.

So determining actual ownership of the property, in what form and in what proportions is vital.

Your visit to the property records will also reveal if the lawyer and uncle have "sold" the property, in which case an action for recovery will be available.

At that stage, it is best to engage or at least consult with a local attorney on potention action protect yourself from the credit damage to you that may flow from the unpaid back tax bill, and also to recover the value not only of your share in the property, but your share of rental value all fractional owners are entitled to.

Ask Your Own Estate Law Question
Ask rsa.esq Your Own Question
rsa.esq
rsa.esq
rsa.esq, Lawyer
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 73
73 Satisfied Customers
Experience: Sworn to the California Bar in 2011. Former staff editor at The New York Times Co. and seasoned news professional of 20 years experience in the U.S. and abroad.

rsa.esq is online now

A new question is answered every 9 seconds

How JustAnswer works:

  • Ask an ExpertExperts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional AnswerVia email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction GuaranteeRate the answer you receive.

JustAnswer in the News:

Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.

What Customers are Saying:

My husband has been driving me insane with questions regarding estate issues since his mother died. I'm not a lawyer! Thanks to JustAnswer, I was able to calm his concerns.

Loretta TIllinois

Thanks Adam!! - A very direct and understandable response - you have been a great help!

Happy CustomerEllicott City, MD

Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises!

Gary B.Edmond, OK

My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer.

EricRedwood City, CA

I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight.

MichaelWichita, KS

PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent.

Three H.Houston, TX

Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!!

ElaineAtlanta, GA

< Previous | Next >

Meet the Experts:

Thomas McJD

Thomas McJD

Attorney

3,170 satisfied customers

Wills, Trusts, Probate & other Estate Matters

Barrister

Barrister

Attorney

5,488 satisfied customers

17 yrs estate law, real estate. Wills/Trusts/Probate

RayAnswers

RayAnswers

Attorney

5,126 satisfied customers

Texas lawyer for 30 years in Estate law

Infolawyer

Infolawyer

Attorney

5,032 satisfied customers

Licensed attorney helping individuals and businesses.

Ely

Ely

Counselor at Law

1,841 satisfied customers

Fully licensed attorney in Texas in private practice.

RobertJDFL

RobertJDFL

Attorney

1,454 satisfied customers

Experienced in multiple areas of the law.

ScottyMacEsq

ScottyMacEsq

Attorney

1,167 satisfied customers

Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney

< Previous | Next >

Related Estate Law Questions
Wealth Management Question When the Estate tax is supposed
Wealth Management QuestionWhen the Estate tax is supposed to be paid in case If one buys his son a house as a gift while he is still alive? Does the son need to pay the taxes immediately after his fat… read more
RayAnswers
RayAnswers
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
5,126 satisfied customers
If there is sale of property in an estate, is the allocation
If there is sale of property in an estate, is the allocation of funds up to the executors or all the heirs?… read more
LegalGems
LegalGems
Juris Doctorate
10,718 satisfied customers
I am one of the beneficiaries of my grandparents estate. In
I am one of the beneficiaries of my grandparents estate. In the closing documents, my grandparents put in a paragraph regarding the trust for my aunt. It states that the bank which is currently the tr… read more
Barrister
Barrister
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
5,488 satisfied customers
Is the executor of an estate responsible for deceased's
Hello,Is the executor of an estate responsible for deceased's credit card debt . Deceased had no property and no car just a few certificates of deposit she left to her daughter who is the wife of the … read more
Barrister
Barrister
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
5,488 satisfied customers
I am an executrix of an estate. We are selling Real Estate.
I am an executrix of an estate. We are selling Real Estate. I was notified that in order to get Title Insurance the insurance company needs me to fill our a questionnaire. They are asking if Fed/State… read more
Barrister
Barrister
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
5,488 satisfied customers
Are you an estate lawyer? Mother and father divorced. Fathet
Are you an estate lawyer? Mother and father divorced. Fathet signed house share of the house to ex wife under rights of survivorship which is indicated on deed. … read more
RayAnswers
RayAnswers
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
5,126 satisfied customers
I was just corresponding with Barrister, an Estate Lawyer. I
I was just corresponding with Barrister, an Estate Lawyer. I have another question. I am the Executrix of my father's estate. My step mother who has Alzheimer's and lives in a memory care unit will re… read more
Barrister
Barrister
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
5,488 satisfied customers
Inasmuch as the current federal estate tax for 2010 is zero
Inasmuch as the current federal estate tax for 2010 is zero (until changed), it is important to know whether there is a 100% carryover basis for estate assets or whether there is an allocable $1.3 mil… read more
Bill
Bill
Master's Degree
2,278 satisfied customers
My sister is the executor of my parents estate. The will
My sister is the executor of my parents estate. The will states that everything is distributed 50/50 (just 2 of us). My mom passed away May 2016 and my dad December 2016. The house was sold in June 20… read more
Barrister
Barrister
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
5,488 satisfied customers
The question regards to an estate if there was a will naming
Hi the question regards ***** ***** estate if there was a will naming 2 family members each get 50% of the bank accounts normally how long does it take to transfer the assets?… read more
Barrister
Barrister
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
5,488 satisfied customers
I"m an executor of an estate that has designated real estate
Hello - I"m an executor of an estate that has designated real estate to be inherited by a relative. There is no mortgage associated with the property.The issue is that the estate, without the property… read more
Barrister
Barrister
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
5,488 satisfied customers
This is regarding an ESTATE if the named beneficiary (who is
this is regarding an ESTATE if the named beneficiary (who is not in the will), they have to turn over the 401k assets from the deceased to be dispursed according to the will?? … read more
LawGuy
LawGuy
Juris Doctor
123 satisfied customers
I am a beneficiary of real estate property in an estate by a
Hello, I am a beneficiary of real estate property in an estate by a man that is now incapacitated. His power of attorney is the only other beneficiary for the estate. He will receive everything except… read more
Barrister
Barrister
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
5,488 satisfied customers
When considering the value of an estate in probate, is the
When considering the value of an estate in probate, is the value of the non-probate inventory added?… read more
originallawyer
originallawyer
Attorney at Law
Doctoral Degree
905 satisfied customers
The executrix of my aunt's estate sold the real estate and
The executrix of my aunt's estate sold the real estate and didn't inform the beneficiarys or make any payments as the will instructed. … read more
LegalGems
LegalGems
Juris Doctorate
10,718 satisfied customers
Estate question. I am an Executor of an Estate. The person
Estate question. I am an Executor of an Estate. The person who's Estate I am administering was in the middle of administering her husband's estate with the assistance of her lawyer, when the Executor … read more
TaxAttorneytoHelp
TaxAttorneytoHelp
Owner
Doctoral Degree
2,542 satisfied customers
I have more estate issue: right to occupancy vs. life estate
I have more estate issue: right to occupancy vs. life estate and what it means if a tenant is renting outside the primary residence. The deed is set up 50% trustee (me) and 50% stepmom's trust. Trust … read more
jb156200
jb156200
Associate Attorney
Doctoral Degree
472 satisfied customers
Does CO Estate or CA estate law, since the home is located
Does CO Estate or CA estate law, since the home is located in California, require the home to have an appraisal at a required point in time after the death of the decedent whose home is in a trust?I a… read more
Barrister
Barrister
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
5,488 satisfied customers

DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

Show MoreShow Less

Ask Your Question

x