Karen Horbatt was Theodore A. Kaczmarek’s niece by marriage. After Karen’s aunt died, Theodore executed a will in 2009 leaving Karen his entire estate, valued at over four million dollars. At the same time, Theodore executed a revocable living trust agreement, designating Karen as the sole trustee. Both documents were drafted by a lawyer procured.. read more →

Robert B. Cohen was a man of “great wealth.” At the time of his death at age 86, he had suffered for years from a progressive form of Parkinson’s disease. His son James filed a complaint to declare that Cohen’s 2009 will, as later modified, was valid. In turn, Cohen’s granddaughter Samantha filed a complaint.. read more →

Kansas’s highest court suspended for six months an attorney who, among other things, charged a couple three times the going rate to qualify for public benefits based upon financial need from the Veterans Administration (VA) and Medicaid. In the Matter of Crandall (Kan., No. 117,910, Nov. 30, 2018). A couple hired David Crandall to update their.. read more →

Before her husband’s death, the Guglielmellis’ daughter Donna lived with their parents and, after Mr. Guglielmelli’s death, she continued to reside with her mother. Mr. Guglielmelli had always handled the couple’s finances, and after his death Donna assumed that role, under a power of attorney for her mother. Donna also served as executor of her.. read more →

In 1998, Joan McFadden executed two powers of attorney (POAs) and a Living Will-Durable Health Care Power appointing John McFadden, her nephew, as her agent and attorney in fact, and Mary Sexton, her niece and John’s sister, as her alternative agent and attorney-in-fact. The two POAs stated that they would become effective upon the following.. read more →

Following their divorce, the decedent, John Garay, and his ex-wife owned a parcel of real property as equal tenants in common. Upon John’s death, the property was owned equally by John’s estate and the ex-wife. The co-executors of John’s estate were two of the Garays’ thirteen children. In 2013, the property was sold to one.. read more →

The decedent was survived by her incapacitated son, for whom the decedent had previously been appointed guardian. Following the decedent’s death, there was protracted litigation regarding the estate, a related trust, and the guardianship, which spanned four years. At the conclusion of the litigation, the attorneys involved submitted fee applications, seeking to be awarded payment.. read more →

Following two days of trial in a probate litigation among the decedent’s children, the parties notified the trial court that it had settled the case. They placed the settlement terms on the record. Those terms included a provision that the parties’ legal fees would be paid by the Estate “following the submission of certifications of.. read more →

Defendant Rosemary Walsh was the executor of the estate of Irene Halpecka, and had been agent under Ms. Halpecka’s power of attorney. Along with the plaintiffs, Walsh was also named as a residuary beneficiary of the estate. Following Halpecka’s death, plaintiffs sued Walsh, alleging breach of fiduciary duty and undue influence in her actions as.. read more →

Ohio’s highest court suspended an attorney who advised his client to transfer assets in order to qualify for Medicaid and then lied to the state Medicaid agency about whether the client transferred assets. Stark County Bar Association v. Buttacavoli (Ohio, No. 2017-Ohio-8857, Dec. 7, 2017). Attorney Glen Buttacavoli’s law practice consisted of providing financial-planning advice.. read more →

A Superior Court judge in Ocean County dismissed a lawsuit filed by a nursing home for unpaid bills against a power of attorney appointed by a former resident, and ordered the nursing home to pay legal fees incurred by the power of attorney, ruling that the law prohibited the nursing home from requiring the power.. read more →

Following the death of James E. Mellodge, his youngest child, Joyce Sealtiel, was appointed as his executrix. In the first probate action, the decedent’s oldest daughter, Joan Bozan, sued Joyce, claiming that Joyce unduly influenced their father to name Joyce as the beneficiary of certain POD accounts. A two-day trial was held and the complaint.. read more →

Maria Delores Heller was in her seventies and suffering from late-stage ALS. She required round-the-clock medical care and was bedridden. Her late husband’s former legal associate, a New York attorney, filed an Order to Show Cause in New Jersey, seeking to be appointed as Ms. Heller’s guardian. The guardianship application was supported by two doctors’.. read more →

In the Matter of the Estate of Anna Fabics involved multiple lawsuits, motions, and other pleadings filed by the decedent’s son Joseph against Joseph’s brother Laszlo. Their mother’s will left her residuary estate to her two sons equally, and appointed Laszlo as executor. The will directed the executor to sell all property of the estate.. read more →

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 →