The plaintiffs in this case were sisters Ashley Nelson-Guedez and Lyndsay Nelson-Nugent, whose father died in 2007. The plaintiffs’ father, Paul Nelson, predeceased their grandfather. Upon their grandfather’s death, his estate was probated in New Jersey, and Paul’s current wife (Jacqueline Limoli) received Paul’s share of Paul’s father’s estate. Plaintiffs alleged that Jacqueline agreed to.. read more →

The decedent, Dr. Evan Merritt London, was single with no children. He executed a number of wills and trusts over the years, with the trusts as the primary vehicle for disposing of his estate. He would make periodic trust revisions in which his beneficiaries (including his niece and nephew, his best friend, and various charities).. read more →

A court in Australia accepted an unsent, draft text message on a mobile phone as an official Last Will and Testament. Nichol v. Nichol The decedent, Mark Nichol, a 55 year old man, committed suicide in 2016. The decedent’s mobile phone was found on a work bench in the shed where the deceased’s body was found.. read more →

Following Alice Malsberger’s death, her niece by marriage, Patricia White (the plaintiff in this lawsuit) found a handwritten document in Alice’s kitchen. It read: I’m Alice Malsberger – I wish to be cremated upon my death – along with my husband Joe – our ashes placed in a similar (illegible) and placed in mausoleum. I.. 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 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 →

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 →

As a general rule, an attorney hired to prepare a will or trust for a client is usually not liable to the beneficiaries of the will or trust because the beneficiaries are not clients of the attorney. But there are exceptions to the general rule. The general rule and its exceptions are demonstrated in two.. read more →

In In re Estate of DeFrank, 433 N.J. Super. 258 (App. Div. Nov. 15, 2013), a New Jersey appeals court reversed a trial court’s summary judgment dismissal of a case involving ownership of joint bank accounts. The Appellate Division reasoned that ownership turned on the intent of the decedent and the relationship of the parties,.. read more →

In Estate of William Strohmenger, 2013 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2651 (App. Div. Oct. 31, 2013), the decedent left a handwritten will leaving his estate to his minor son, in trust, and nothing to his estranged wife. After his sister sought to admit the holographic will to probate, the estranged wife filed a caveat objecting.. read more →

Earlier this month, Hon. Robert P. Contillo, Presiding Judge of the Chancery Division, Bergen County, New Jersey, set aside a decedent’s Last Will and Testament, ruling that the Will was the result of undue influence by one of her adult children who was the principal beneficiary of the will. In doing so, Judge Contillo made.. read more →

In this case, the decedent, William McLellan, created an irrevocable life insurance trust for the primary benefit of his wife and children in 2006. The life insurance trust was funded with a $2.5 million life insurance policy. Plaintiff, Lois Jean McLellan, the spouse of the decedent and mother of two of decedent’s four children, was.. read more →