Winter 2002

Vol.6 – No.3

Executor’s Duties

The newly released Executor’s Legal Survival Guide will assist you in naming a good executor in your will, explain to executors their duties and responsibilities and inform estate beneficiaries of the role of the executor in the probate process. The guide by Robert Friedman answers such frequently asked questions as: What is probate? What are the executor’s responsibilities? What are the steps in probating a will? Should a family member be named as executor? What death benefits are available? What qualities and abilities should an executor have? Checklists include: documents that the executor must collect, who the exector must notify, how to preserve estate property, what advisors to hire, and what records must be maintained. Click here to read more.

Landlord’s Seminar

“How to Survive Legally as a Landlord” will be presented by attorney/author Robert Friedman from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, 2002 at the Clarence Middle School, Room 103, 10150 Grenier Road, Clarence. Mr. Friedman will discuss evictions, leases, Small Claims Court, discrimination laws, civil liability, insurance, security deposits, elderly tenants, drugs, debt collection, and lead pain regulations. There is a registration and book fee. To register, call Clarence Community Education at (716) 759-8331.

New Clarence/Williamsville Office

Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C. Attorneys have relocated their Clarence/Williamsville office to 8860 Main Street. The firm also maintains offices in Akron, West Seneca, Buffalo, and Batavia.

Free Legal Forms

Legal forms, including a will information sheet, eviction notices, promissory note, rental application, limited liability company articles of organization, and lease riders are available free in our Free Legal Forms section. The website is a comprehensive source of legal information, tools and news covering thirty topics. LegalSurvival.com also features legal checklists, a bookstore, prepaid legal plans, helpful links, and resources for law students. Since 1996, it has won over eighty awards and honorable mentions including USA Today, Fortune Magazine and NBC.

Verdicts & Settlements

Experienced trial attorney, Michael H. Ranzenhofer, won these verdicts and settlements for accident victims during the last half of 2001: $160,000 for a 50-year-old secretary who injured her knee when she tripped on loose carpet at the top of a stairway; $62,000 for a 36-year-old Akron hospital worker and firefighter who hurt her shoulder in a car accident; $45,000 for a Cheektowaga housewife who injured her elbow when she stepped into a sidewalk depression entering a bank; $45,000 for a Batavia man who fractured three ribs in an automobile accident; $32,000 for a West Seneca woman who broke her ankle when she slipped on ice while walking into a fireplace store; $60,000 for a Rushford man who sustained a scar on his forehead in a motor vehicle collision; $59,000 for a Batavia power line worker who broke his jaw when struck by malfunctioning equipment; $25,000 for a Deputy Sheriff who injured his shoulder during a traffic stop; and $25,000 for an Akron man who hurt his back in an automobile driven by his father.

What’s New in Divorce/Family Law?

Foster mother entitled to visitation. A foster mother may be entitled to visitation with a child she had cared for, despite the biological father’s objection. Although she was not entitled to visitation rights, the New York Family Court found that the child had a First Ammendment right to associate with the foster mother and the fundamental right to maintain contact with a person with whom he developed a parent-like relationship. Such rights are “liberty interests protected by the due process of the Federal and State Constitutions,” the court said.

What’s New in Elder Law?

Medicare eliminates discrimination against Alzheimer patients. Medicare claims can no longer be denied automatically based solely on the diagnosis of dementia. Medicare has refused to pay for some medical services for beneficiaries with Alzheimer’s disease. Medicare will no longer use the dementia diagnostic codes alone as a basis for determining whether Medicare covered services are reasonable and necessary. “Medical Review of Services for Patients with Dementia” can be obtained online at The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website. Due to advances in diagnostic techniques, phsyicians and psychologists can diagnose individuals with certain dementias at the earliest stages of the disease.

What’s New in Municipal Law?

New Wetlands mitigation rules. A new method of measuring how wetland damage should be mitigated has been adopted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. When a development project requires filling wetlands, the Clean Water Act requires that developers minimize damage or compensate for the loss through mitigation. Mitigation may include restoring, creating, enhancing, or preserving wetlands. Permits usually require that two acres of wetlands be mitigated for every one acre that is destroyed.

What’s New in Estate Planning?

Bank not liable for adding name to account. A doctor and his daughter opened a joint account with survivorship rights. The bank contract provided that “each owner appoints all other owners as his or her agent to endorse, deposit, withdraw and conduct business with the account.” The doctor’s health began to deteriorate ten years later. His wife asked to be added to the account so that she could pay bills. The doctor and his wife were told by a bank employee that the signatures of all parties would be required to add her to the account. However, when the wife returned the signature card signed only by the doctor and herself, her name was added to the account.

What’s New in Real Estate Law?

Homebuyers are awarded $148,000 for “real estate flipping.” An estate left a house to a battered woman’s help center. Instead of turning the house over to the center, the personal representative sold it to himself and his wife for the “appraised value” of $8,500. He entered into a rent-to-own agreement in which the buyer’s monthly $500 rent would be applied to the purchase price of $49,500 after three years. Shortly after the buyers moved in, the sewer line backed up and raw sewage filled their basement.

What’s New in Consumer Law?

Act quickly to get your good name back. The U.S. Supreme Court has made it harder for victims of identity theft to sue credit reporting bureaus for mistakes that allow imposters to utilize their good credit. Lawsuits must be filed within two years of when the mistake was made, even if the victim did not learn of the error during that time. The Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 gives consumers access to their files and requires credit report agencies to maintain “reasonable procedures” to assure the accuracy and privacy of their financial data. By obtaining a few items of information, scam artists can obtain accounts in other names. The Act allows individuals harmed by a credit bureau’s negligence to sue for damages within two years from the date on which the liability arises.

What’s New in Debtor/Creditor Law?

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) violated by collection agency. When a debtor failed to pay a $300 doctor’s bill, a debt collection agency sent him a letter which stated: “The doctor insists on payment or a valid reason for your failure to make the payment…In the absence of a valid reason for your falure to make payment, pay the above debt or contact the doctor to settle this matter.” However, the FDCPA gives the debtor the right to notify the debt collector if that debt is “disputed”, in which case the debt collector must cease all efforts to collect until it has verified the debt and mailed the verification to the debtor.

Injured Victims’ Rights

The Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C. Ten Point Pledge to Accident/Injury Clients is:

  • To communicate with you in plain language that is easy to understand.
  • To promptly return your telephone calls.
  • To quickly and thoroughly investigate and analyze your case. Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C. does not accept every accident case.
  • To have your case personally handled by an attorney.
  • To keep you informed of the progress of your case at all times.
  • To show you the personal care, concern and attention which has been the hallmark of our law firm since 1955.
  • To not handle your case in an “assembly line” fashion.
  • To accommodate the needs of you and your family during the handling of your case.
  • To vigorously protect your legal rights.
  • To never release your name to the media after your case has been completed, except with your written permission.

Attorney Michael H. Ranzenhofer limits his practice to automobile accident, slip and fall, dog bite and defective product cases. He is a member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, the New York Trial Lawyers Association, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association and the Erie County Bar Association Negligence Committee.

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