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 →

The plaintiff, Marjorie Fister, is the mother of defendant Kevin Edward Fister. In 2010, the defendant, along with his wife and four adult children, moved into plaintiff’s home with her. Mrs. Fister’s health declined and, in 2012, she moved into her daughter’s New York home. However, the defendant and his family remained in Mrs. Fister’s.. read more →

A New York surrogate turned down a guardianship petition filed by the parents of a 34-year-old woman with Down syndrome, holding that courts should always seek to impose the least-restrictive terms of oversight that meet the needs of the person alleged to be incapacitated. Matter of Michelle M., 2016 NY Slip Op 51114(U) (Surrogate’s Court,.. 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 →

I just read an insightful article in the Washington Post. The article, by Susan Berger, asks the question: “What’s the best way to talk to someone with Alzheimer’s?” It stems from an encounter between Berger and an acquaintance of hers who had just been diagnosed with the disease. The article explores what to do and.. read more →

A New Jersey appellate court ruled that a person who is incapacitated may still be able to express a preference as to his or her choice of a guardian or place of residence, both of which are entitled to consideration by the court. Matter of the Guardianship of Walter J. Macak, 377 N.J. Super. 167.. read more →

A trial court in Bergen County held that a parent’s promise to leave assets to an adult child does not give rise to an enforceable claim of interference with anticipated inheritance since parents are not prohibited from disinheriting their children under New Jersey law notwithstanding promises to the contrary made during the parent’s life.  Gong.. read more →

This was a contested guardianship case involving S.H., called “Sarah” by the court, a 28 year old incapacitated woman. The principal issue in the case was whether Sarah’s guardian should be her mother, B.H. (Barbara), who filed the guardianship action, or J.H. (Joan), Sarah’s adult sister. Joining Joan in opposing Barbara’s appointment were: Barbara’s ex-husband,.. read more →

A New Jersey trial judge dismissed a lawsuit asserted by an alleged abuser against a group of defendants who had either reported or investigated claims of elder abuse and neglect by the abuser. Rizzo v Bergen County Board of Social Services, Docket No. BER – L – 2926 – 12 (Law Div., June 10, 2014)… read more →

In an opinion that breaks sharply with established practice, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that an application by a divorced spouse to pay child support for a disabled child into a special needs trust should be granted where the proponent shows that it is in child’s best interest to do so.  This is a.. 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 →

A challenge to a will (as opposed to, for example, (1) a challenge to non-probate designations; (2) a challenge to pre-death transfers by a power of attorney; or (3) a challenge to the actions of an executor following probate of a will) may be initiated two ways. First, by way of a caveat; second, by.. read more →

As we age, the decrease in independence and concurrent increasing need for care which often occur can be a source of stress and conflict in many families. Adult children who must provide care to aging parents or who must make health care or financial decisions for dependent family members face tremendous challenges. Care-giving and decision-making.. 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 Jersey appeals court ruled that the state has no obligation to pay for transportation that would allow a 25-year-old man with autism to attend an adult day program because he is on the waiting list for a Medicaid waiver and a comparable program is available closer to his home. J.J. and L.J. on.. read more →

Lawyers who regularly deal with elderly and disabled clients like I do often confront the issue of client capacity. Under our professional rules, a lawyer may represent a client who has less than full capacity, although a lawyer is precluded from representing a client who lacks capacity. The issue confronting the lawyer involves properly assessing.. read more →

For more than two years, I have been representing an elderly man in a contested guardianship action. My client’s son claimed that my client was incapacitated, and instituted a guardianship action in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Union County in November of 2007. I opposed that guardianship action on behalf of my client, maintaining.. read more →

A North Carolina appeals court recently held that assets owned by an incompetent Medicaid recipient which were discovered by her family after she had been receiving Medicaid benefits for several years were countable and that the family must repay the benefits already paid on the Medicaid recipient’s behalf. Ella Mae Cloninger suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.. 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 →

Earlier this week I was a participant on a panel held at the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in Atlantic City, NJ. The other panelists were Linda Ershow-Levenberg, Esq. and Brenda McElnea, Esq., both formerly Chairs of the Elder Law Section of the State Bar Association. The topic was “Representing Clients With Diminished.. read more →