Son Sues Mom for His Inheritance

Bigstock-Inheritance-Concept--73273333Family members suing each other over inheritances and other estate matters is fairly common. A recent case in North Carolina, however, is a bit unusual in that the matter centers on a disbarred attorney.

Tols Detmer’s father, Fritz Detmer, left his son an estate worth several hundred thousand dollars. The inheritance was supposed to be made available to the son when he turned 18.

Now, Tols is 19 and he is suing his own mother, Charlinette Detmer, for hundreds of thousands of dollars he says she improperly received from the estate.

The lawsuit alleges that Charlinette was supposed to receive $60,000 from the estate, but instead the lawyer administering the estate, Peter Capece, gave her $311,000. It is alleged that Capece gave Charlinette this windfall because she knew that Capece was misappropriating money from the estate for his own benefit.

In effect, the money paid to Charlinette was hush money.

Capece did not get away with his scheme, however. He was disbarred for appropriating $1.6 million from the estate of Fritz Detmer. Although the Fritz Detmer estate is suing Capece, you cannot get blood from a turnip. He has recently filed for bankruptcy.

The estate has put a home owned by Charlinette up for sale to pay Tols Detmer the money his mother owes him.

The Charlotte Observer reported this story in an article titled “Son sues his mom over Lake Norman estate proceeds.”

One thing this estate tale illustrates is that it is extremely important to choose a lawyer to administer an estate who is trustworthy.

If Capece had not misappropriated funds from the estate, then the mother never would have been able to request hush money. Of course, that does not absolve the mother in this case for taking the money that should have rightfully belonged to her son.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: Charlotte Observer (August 20, 2015) “Son sues his mom over Lake Norman estate proceeds.”


Who Owes On a Lease When the Tenant Passes Away?

Bigstock-Hand-With-Pen-And-Calculator-O-80294831Fewer and fewer Americans own their homes and instead are choosing to sign leases. What happens when someone passes away and money is still owed on the lease?

The New York Times runs a regular column where people can write in and have their real estate questions answered by an expert. In a recent such column, titled “A Noisy Cafe Next Door,” an elderly woman wrote and asked whether her daughter would be responsible for a recently signed lease if the writer passed away during the term of the lease.

The expert’s opinion?

The woman’s estate would owe on the lease and need to make regular payments. However, New York law does provide that the tenant’s estate can attempt to find a new tenant which the landlord must accept if reasonable.

This is fairly standard for any contract that you sign, and a lease is a form of contract.

Unless the terms of the contract state that it terminates upon death, then the person’s estate is normally responsible for that contract.

Naturally, there are exceptions, such as when a contract would be impossible to perform after one of the parties passes away. For example, a contract for a celebrity to make a personal appearance would be impossible to perform if the celebrity passed away.

One thing to note, however, is that like New York, many states do have special provisions in the law regarding how to handle post-death leases.

Before paying on a lease, an estate administrator should consult with an estate planning attorney in his or her jurisdictions to see how local law applies.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: New York Times (September 19, 2015) “A Noisy Cafe Next Door,”

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