DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

September 27, 2012

Being harassed? Don't take the bait

ABOUT THE LAW
Andrew Myers

---- — Can I sue people who sit across the street from my apartment calling me crazy?

My family is currently involved in a business dispute that is tied up in court and the local approval boards. The opposing parties have gotten people in our densely populated neighborhood to harass me. They sit there and stare, point and talk about me to complete strangers.

I called the police, who came and talked to the people, then told me it was a civil matter and not to call them anymore. Now, they’re telling people I am crazy. What can I do?

Issue one, fortunately, is that there appears not to be any threat of physical harm, so a restraining order or criminal charges are out of the question.

I don’t see the point of a civil case of any type because I am guessing that it’s doubtful that these people have assets for you to go after if you win a judgment. No lawyer will take a case like this on a contingency and I doubt that you’re willing to pay an attorney’s hourly rate to pursue a lengthy contested lawsuit.

My best advice is practical, not legal. Go about your routine and ignore the bothersome people. They are likely just trying to bait you to do something that will make the situation worse. Be better than that and disregard them.

My aunt died and had a will. She never married and really had no one except for my sister and me. I am named as executor in the will and everything goes 50-50 to my sister and me.

She had a nice house, a car and some accounts. We want to sell the house, but, the real estate agent and everyone else says I can’t do anything until I go to probate.

How do I put the house in probate? Why didn’t her attorney tell her we would have to go to probate? I thought the will took care of everything.

I’m sorry to hear of your loss. A will is actually a directive to the Probate Court expressing the wishes of the person who passed away, called the decedent. However, only the court has authority to finalize your aunt’s wishes.

You need to retain a good probate attorney. “Putting a house in probate” requires opening up a decedent’s estate. After the filing of a petition, if the papers are filed correctly, you receive an appointment as executor. Only at that point can you sell the house.

Most attorneys explain that a will is a final document that needs to go through probate. On the other hand, a properly enacted trust avoids all of that. Through the trust, property changes hands without court meddling.

A trust costs more up front. Property has to be deeded into the trust. For example, real estate is conveyed into the trust by deed. It is more work up front, but on the other hand, the correctly done trust avoids the probate hurdle you now face.

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Andrew Myers of Derry has law offices in Derry and North Andover. He is a member of the American Association for Justice and the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. Send questions to andrew@attorney-myers.com.