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A Hot Mess

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  • A Hot Mess

    I filed Ch 7 in June and went to the 341 meeting. At the meeting, the Trustee asked me if I owned or rented where I live. I told her I'm living at my mother in law's house and paying the property taxes in lieu of rent. The Trustee asked me if my MIL was still living to which I responded no. She asked me if my MIL had a will which to my knowledge she does, but SIL has it. SIL never probated the will, but said that the will stipulated the house be sold and split between three siblings; my husband, SIL and BIL. My husband died in 2016 and did not leave a will.

    The Trustee wants to see MIL's will and have the house appraised. My lawyer said I have three options: (1) Let the Trustee force a sale of the house and apply 1/3 of the proceeds if my husband was listed in the will, (2) Tell SIL to buy out my husband's 1/3 of the house and give that to the Trustee, or (3) file a Ch. 13 and pay the Trustee approximately $400 per month for 5 years.

    I wasn't expecting things to get so complicated.

  • #2
    How on EARTH did your attorney not catch this issue before filing? Is this a change in living situation since you filed?
    This post does not constitute legal advice. If you use this advice instead of that of a lawyer, God help you.
    Filed CH 7: 5/11/17 341: 6/12/17 Discharge: 8/14/17

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    • #3
      Originally posted by rjmwx81 View Post
      How on EARTH did your attorney not catch this issue before filing? Is this a change in living situation since you filed?
      It's not easy to catch unless you ask the right questions. That Trustee was very good at finding things. A debtor that is represented should be upfront with all property that they own. A debtor's attorney is only going to ask "do you own any property?" If you answer no and the Trustee finds that you were bequeathed an interest in property later... this is what happens.

      In many cases, the debtor does not even know that they were the beneficiary of a life estate. However this particular case reveals that the debtor may have known about the inheritance prior to filing. Maybe I don't know if NewbieHere informed their attorney up front that their deceased husband's mother left property to him.

      NewbieHere this is exactly the type of thing that a Chapter 7 Trustee is trying to find... property. Your attorney laid out the choices that you have and that is simply the reality of having property which you can't exempt. However, ask your about your homestead exemption. Since you are living there as your homestead and are an owner, you should be entitled to the homestead exemption. I don't know if you used NJ Exemptions of the Federal Exemptions. I guess I'm asking whether you could claim a homestead exemption since you live in the home that you are a co-owner.

      We're talking about $24,000, right ($400 x 60).


      Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
      Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
      Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog


      I am not an attorney. Any advice provided is not legal advice.

      Comment


      • #4
        But the attorney certainly would've asked about living arrangements, right? That's where I feel the red flag should've gone up. Oh well. I suppose it just serves as a lesson to others: tell your attorney EVERYTHING and be as detailed as possible.
        This post does not constitute legal advice. If you use this advice instead of that of a lawyer, God help you.
        Filed CH 7: 5/11/17 341: 6/12/17 Discharge: 8/14/17

        Comment


        • #5
          My attorney says he wasn't aware that MIL was deceased even though I had provided a letter from the lawyer handling the MIL's estate when she died showing the arrangement to pay the property taxes in lieu of rent. He said he assumed that MIL was still living. I feel at this point I'm at this attorney's mercy now. He did make a good point that SIL will probably try to sell the house anyway which she's already hinted to. I just don't want to end up homeless behind all this.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by NewbieHere View Post
            My attorney says he wasn't aware that MIL was deceased even though I had provided a letter from the lawyer handling the MIL's estate when she died showing the arrangement to pay the property taxes in lieu of rent.
            It's more complex than that because you didn't have a right to the property when your MIL died. You didn't become entitled until your husband died and he had no will. This is why probate is so messy. I had to personally deal with living estates and wills and a bunch of title actions that were never taken. Luckily, I was not yet entitled to the property.

            These are seriously complex things (wills, living estates, property changing hands through bequest or inheritance within a short period of time). Not all attorneys are equipped to handle this. Chapter 7 Panel Trustees almost specialize in Estates as that what they do; liquidate estates.

            Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
            Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
            Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog


            I am not an attorney. Any advice provided is not legal advice.

            Comment

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