In 1997, Evelyn Worley’s son Dwight assisted her in opening a $100,000 Transfer On Death (“TOD”) account where he worked. Dwight was designated as the sole beneficiary of the account. In 2005, Evelyn signed a power of attorney (“POA”) naming Dwight as her agent. In 2008, she signed a will naming Dwight as her executor.. read more →

Robert Grafer, Jr. was the executor of his mother’s estate. He and his sister Laura were Mrs. Grafer’s only children, and the estate was to be divided between them in equal shares. The probate estate was valued at approximately $237,000, including a house. Non-probate assets totaling $184,000 had been held by Robert and his mother.. read more →

The defendant, William Lewis, was the administrator of his deceased mother’s estate. In connection with the administration of the estate, and related litigation with his brother regarding the estate, the defendant was represented by Eileen Siegeltuch, an attorney at Cureton Clark, P.C. The Cureton firm sent him an invoice for over $68,000 in legal fees.. read more →

Plaintiff filed an action seeking to declare his mother, D.W., an incapacitated person, and seeking to be appointed as her guardian. D.W. contested the guardianship action, claiming that she was not incapacitated and did not need a guardian. The court had appointed Matthew Van Natten, Esq. as D.W.’s counsel. Later, D.W. privately retained Alan John.. read more →

In a 3-2 ruling, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided that attorneys can be held liable for counsel fees if they are found to have intentionally breached their fiduciary duty to non-clients. Peter Innes v. Madeline Marzano-Lesnevich, Esq. Peter Innes and his wife, Maria Jose Carrascosa, were married in Spain in 1999, and Victoria, their.. read more →

In an appeal from a trial court’s decision to reduce the counsel fees sought by a litigant, the appellate division ruled that counsel fees, awarded to both proponent and contestant in a will dispute at the discretion of the trial court, are disturbed on appeal “only on the rarest of occasions.” In re Estate of Riordan,.. read more →

A trial court ruled that the plaintiff, who brought but ultimately withdrew the complaint in a contested guardianship case, must pay the legal fees of both the alleged incapacitated person and the court-appointed evaluator.  Matter of Madeline H., 31441-I-2015 This contested New York guardianship case was settled after extensive conferences pursuant to a stipulation of.. read more →

A Florida appeals court upheld a judgment of $350,000 in a lawsuit filed by a lawyer against her former client alleging defamation based on negative reviews of the lawyer posted on the internet by the former client. Blake v. Giustibelli, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D14-3231, 1/6/2016), 2016 WL _______. Florida Attorney Ann-Marie.. read more →

A lawyer who was found to have exerted undue influence over his mother must reimburse her estate for legal fees and costs, along with paying prejudgment interest from the date the estate monies were wrongfully taken, an appeals court ruled. Matter of the Estate of Sogliuzzo, Docket No. A-0882-14T2 (App. Div., December 17, 2015) Jane P… read more →

The New Jersey appeals court reversed a trial court’s dismissal of a legal malpractice action brought by beneficiaries of an estate against the attorney representing the estate, holding that estate attorneys may owe a duty of care to non-clients when the attorneys know, or should know, that non-clients will rely on the attorneys’ representations. Higgins.. read more →

Here are checks from the State of New Jersey issued to plaintiffs’ counsel as a result of the award of attorneys fees granted by the federal court in the Galletta v. Velez class action lawsuit:: As I reported in an earlier blog post, earlier this month a Consent Order was filed in federal district court in New.. read more →

Two years ago, in 2013, a federal judge in New Jersey granted a preliminary injunction to Elizabeth Flamini, a Medicaid applicant who successfully sued for an injunction preventing the State of New Jersey from counting an annuity owned by Mrs. Flamini’s husband Angelo as an available resource in determining Medicaid eligibility. Flamini v. Velez  ,.. read more →

A New Jersey appeals court upheld a substantial fee award exceeding the amount in controversy for work preformed by law firm in a probate litigation when representing the estate of a man manipulated into modifying his will through undue influence because the wrongdoer’s actions contributed to, and greatly increased, the time and effort required to.. read more →

Renee Halpecka died in 2005 when she was 84 years old. Before her death, Renee had been very ill for many years and was cared for by her husband. After her husband died in 2001, Rosemary Walsh, a neighbor, became Renee’s caretaker and served as her agent under a financial power of attorney and medical.. read more →

Reversing state agency and appeals court rulings, the highest court of the State of Washington ruled that a guardian cannot be charged with neglect based on the guardian’s good-faith decision to provide care for the ward in her home rather than place her in a nursing home against the ward’s wishes. Raven v. Department of Social and.. read more →

In a November 5, 2010 blog post, I discussed the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division decision in Matter of Sand, Docket No. A-1856-08T1 (App. Div., November 1, 2010). In that case, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the decedent’s daughter’s attempt to set aside her mother’s will, claiming undue influence.. read more →

In Matter of Rizzo, the son of an adjudicated incapacitated person appealed from a Chancery Division, Probate Part, Bergen County order that had made the son contingently liable for the legal fees incurred by the court-appointed counsel for the incapacitated person during the guardianship proceedings. The father/ward had no liquid assets; his only asset was.. read more →

A California appeals court ruled that a trial court inappropriately awarded trustee fees to the successor trustee of a special needs trust despite clear language in the trust prohibiting a successor trustee from receiving a fee. As a result, the trustee did not receive any of his fees that had totaled over six figures. Thorpe v… read more →

(The 15th Annual Elder and Disability Law Symposium was held on October 3, 2012 at the New Jersey Law Center, in New Brunswick, NJ. This year, as in the past few years, I gave the case law update at the opening plenary session by summarizing the top ten (10) or so elder and disability law.. read more →

A New York appeals court allowed a case for legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty to proceed against an attorney who charged more than $44,000 for Medicaid planning work to protect a net estate valued at about $130,000. Sobel v. Ansanelli, (N.Y. Sup. Ct., App. Div., 2nd Dept., No. 2011-11418, Sept. 19, 2012). In.. read more →

I recently blogged about In the Matter of the Estate of Lillian Schmidt, a case that can be seen as a warning to potential plaintiffs seeking counsel fees in probate actions. On August 7, 2012, in In the Matter of the Alleged Will of Allan C. Schenecker, the Appellate Division issued another decision upholding the.. read more →

Verna and John Obermuller transferred their real property located in Brooklyn, New York to their daughter Joan Langone, one of their four children, while retaining life estates and powers of appointment in the property. John and Verna also executed a Trust Agreement between themselves as grantors, and Joan as grantee, in which Joan acknowledged that.. read more →

Plaintiff, Disability Rights New Jersey (“DRNJ”) filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Newark, NJ against defendant Jennifer Velez in her capacity as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services (“DHS”). DHS is a state agency that provides medical care and assistance programs for economically disadvantaged or disabled residents of New Jersey… read more →

In the recent case of Rossius v. Krasheninnikoff, plaintiff filed a complaint in which she alleged undue influence by the defendant upon the decedent after she discovered that defendant had obtained letters testamentary from the Ocean County Surrogate’s Court by falsely claiming that he was kin to the decedent. After a three day trial, the.. read more →