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 →

The Appellate Division affirmed a summary judgment ruling by a trial court in a probate lawsuit involving disputed issues of material fact relating to alleged incapacity and undue influence. In the Matter of the Estate of Tornaben, New Jersey Superior Court, App. Div., Docket No. A-5181-14T4 (Sept. 27, 2016). The Essex County Surrogate admitted the.. 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 →

When he died in 2012, the decedent, retired physician Henry D. Rubenstein, left his insolvent estate to his second wife and her nephew. Although he and his second wife had a son, his will explicitly left no bequest to that son. The second wife claimed that the decedent’s extensive health problems had depleted the estate.. read more →

The decedent, Byung-Tae Oh, was a citizen and resident of the Republic of Korea. His youngest son, Hyung Kee Oh, owned B & H Consulting, a New Jersey limited liability company. Before his death, the decedent had transferred $900,000 into B & H’s bank account. Following the decedent’s death, his oldest son, Won Ki Oh.. read more →

A few months prior to her death, Basabadatta Pattanayak and her husband Sandeep Srinath executed a Marital Settlement Agreement. The Agreement included a section entitled “Equitable Distribution,” in which they divided their property and relinquished spousal support, and agreed that the husband would pay health insurance until the dissolution of the marriage. When the Agreement.. read more →

In 1992, Ann Mark created two irrevocable trusts for the benefit of her three children. In 1997, Jared Scharf became the successor trustee for the trusts, and used some of those assets to form a separate trust for each of Ms. Mark’s three children. Each of the trusts stated that they were governed by New.. 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 →

When Helen Weste died in 2010, she was divorced with no children. In 1994, she had executed a will leaving her estate to charities and nieces and nephews. In 2001, Helen’s health began to fail. In April 2002, family members contacted her ex-husband (who was agent under her power of attorney), and he flew in.. read more →

The decedent, Keith R. O’Malley, was the father of two children from two different relationships. His minor son, E.L., resided with E.L.’s mother in New York, although O’Malley was a New Jersey resident. O’Malley, who was financially successful, died unexpectedly at the age of 36. In 2008, O’Malley and E.L.’s mother had entered into a.. read more →

The decedent, Evelyn Berry, had been married twice. At the time of her death, the two children of her first marriage (Darryl and Tara) were adults. The two children of her second marriage (Garrett and Brook) were minors. Evelyn’s will included a testamentary trust for the maintenance, support and education of Garrett and Brook. Darryl.. read more →

Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a husband’s separation from his wife and subsequent extramarital affairs deprived him of his right to an intestate share of the deceased spouse’s estate. Estate of Kathleen Talerico, __ A.3d __ (No. 728 MDA 2015, filed March 18, 2016). Kathleen and Donald Talerico were married in 2006. The couple resided in.. read more →

Vicinio v. Carluccio, Leone, Dimon, Doyle & Sacks, LLC is a legal malpractice action stemming from an underlying family dispute involving the Estate of Philomena Vicinio. Philomena Vicinio’s health began to deteriorate after her husband’s death. Thereafter, Mrs. Vicinio attempted to reside with her daughter, Roseann, on several occasions, with each attempt short-lived because of.. 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 →

New Jersey appeals court ruled a surviving spouse failed to prove that her deceased spouse made an enforceable gift based on the deceased spouse’s failure to deliver the gift during his life to the survivor. Matter of the Estate of Herenchak, 2015 N.J. Super. Unpub. 2014 WL 9868901 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. June 8,.. read more →

In order to protect the public and and guard against elder abuse by lawyers, the New Jersey Supreme Court suspended an attorney from the practice of law for one-year after the attorney borrowed nearly $90,000 from an elderly, unsophisticated widow who he knew for many years. In the Matter of William J. Torre, an Attorney.. read more →

Plaintiff, Emmaline O’Hara, and defendant, John B. O’Hara, Jr., were married in 1955. They had two children, Robin, who is deceased, and Kevin, from whom John was estranged. John acquired approximately $6 million in assets during the marriage. In 2012, Emmaline filed for divorce. At that time, Emmaline was 80 years old, and had been.. read more →

In this case, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that gifts giving rise to a presumption of undue influence include gifts that strip the donor of all or virtually all his assets, and gifts to a donee on whom the donor depends. Pascale v Pascale, 113 N.J. 20 (1988) In 1939, plaintiff, John J. Pascale,.. read more →

In this will contest involving the doctrine of probable intent, Hon. Robert P. Contillo, P.J.Ch. ruled that a court cannot alter the language of a trust that is plain and unambiguous even when extrinsic evidence strongly suggests that the trust language is not what the settlor intended. Violet and Joseph Nelson had three children: Jacob.. read more →

In 1997, the decedent, Kathleen Boyer, executed a Last Will and Testament and a revocable trust. In the will, she directed that her residuary estate “pour over” into the revocable trust upon her death. She named herself as trustee of the revocable trust and, although she retained complete control of the trust assets during her.. read more →

Happy New Year to clients, supporters, friends and readers. Last month, an article on this blog ranked the 25 most popular blog posts and website articles on the Vanarelli Law Office website in 2015. Since then, I decided to narrow my focus a little. In this post, I focused solely on blog posts, and created.. read more →

Linda Hall was the executrix of her mother’s estate. Hall had initially had a 2005 will admitted to probate. When Hall’s sister, Carol Polak-Reid (“Reid”) filed a complaint alleging that their mother had executed another will in 2011, Hall represented that she had attempted to have the 2011 will admitted, but the surrogate had rejected.. 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 →

In 2003, Michael Yahatz opened a bank account. The following year, the bank was acquired by Bank of America (“BOA”) and the account was converted to a money market account. In 2005, Mr. Yahatz signed a BOA signature card, which included an acknowledgement that the account would be governed by BOA’s deposit agreement. The deposit.. read more →