The decedent’s wife predeceased him. Thereafter, in 2009 the decedent executed a new will leaving his estate to his wife’s niece (the defendant). At the defendant’s suggestion, the decedent also executed a revocable living trust. Shortly thereafter, he became concerned about losing control of his assets, and he retained a new lawyer to draft a.. read more →

Anthony F. Cordasco and his wife, Louise, were living in a condominium when Louise became ill in late 2012. The Cordascos decided to sell the condominium and move in with their daughter, Roseann Altiero, who agreed to care for Louise. Anthony and Louise signed a listing agreement in January 2013 and placed the condominium on.. read more →

For additional information concerning special needs trusts and disability planning, visit: NJ Special Needs Trusts and Disability Planning read more →

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 →

The decedent was estranged from her daughter Cheryl, the defendant, for almost 25 years, but they reconciled shortly before her death, when the decedent was ill. In 1996, the decedent and her husband had executed wills and a trust, excluding Cheryl from their estates. In 2006, the decedent and her husband consulted with a special.. 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 →

It’s not always easy to recognize elder abuse when it happens to someone you love or care for. There are several types of elder abuse: Physical Abuse – An act, rough treatment or punishment that may result in injury, pain or impairment Psychological Abuse – Psychological, verbal or emotional abuse causing suffering, emotional pain, or distress.. 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 →

Edna M. Fone, a widow, had two children, Richard J. Fone, Jr. and Katherine Fone. Following Edna’s death, Richard sought to probate a 2009 Will allegedly signed by Edna which omitted Katherine as a beneficiary. In response, Katherine filed a lawsuit, seeking to invalidate the purported Will, alleging Richard had exerted undue influence over their.. read more →

Although the decedent had four children, she left her entire estate to two of the children. However, the will did not mention her two omitted daughters, or the fact that they were being omitted. One of the omitted daughters sued, claiming the will was the result of undue influence or lack of testamentary capacity. The.. read more →

The decedent, Alfred Finocchiaro, Sr., died in 2011, predeceased by his wife. The decedent had two sons (Alfred Jr. and Frank) and a daughter. His son Alfred Jr. had predeceased him, having committed suicide on December 29, 2006. The decedent’s daughter survived him, but died before the trial in this case began. The decedent resided.. read more →

In this will contest, plaintiffs were named as residuary beneficiaries in the Last Will and Testament which the decedent, Charles W. Winter, Jr., executed in 1999. Plaintiffs were all cousins of the decedent. The three defendants also shared close personal and/or family relationships with the decedent. In a new Last Will and Testament executed on.. 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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

Decision-making capacity involves four (4) key abilities: the ability to understand information relevant to a decision, to retain the information relevant to the decision, to use the information relevant to the decision as part of the decision-making process and to communicate the decision once it is made. But since decision-making capacity involves mental abilities, how.. read more →

After an individual’s death, litigation regarding the decedent’s estate can arise in a variety of contexts. A common claim asserted in an estate litigation is that the decedent lacked “testamentary capacity” (the capacity to make a will). An individual’s mental capacity is judged based upon the transaction or act that the person is undertaking. One.. read more →

In September 2010, I blogged about the Matter of the Estate of Jewell B. Sykes case, in which the Appellate Division concluded that family ties, without more, do not create a “confidential relationship.” That blog post can be found here. In a February 16, 2012 decision in In the Matter of the Estate of John.. read more →

In the December 13, 2011 Estate of Sano Chancery Division case, the decedent’s wife had sued the decedent’s former employee (Ms. Chung) and that employee’s sister (Ms. Choi), claiming that they defrauded and unduly influenced the decedent to change a beneficiary designation of a $2.5 million life insurance policy. The policy had originally named the.. read more →

  Several weeks ago, on Sunday, November 20th, I was a guest on The Caring Generation, a radio show airing on 630 KHOW-AM, a Talk Radio Station broadcasting from Denver, Colorado, and on the internet. The show is hosted by Pamela D. Wilson, who identified herself as the “Care Navigator.” The Caring Generation is about.. read more →

I compiled my selections for the top ten (10) New Jersey estate and probate litigation / will contest cases in 2010. For those cases I previously blogged about, a link to the blog post as well as the case is included below. (1)    Matter of the Estate of Jewell B. Sykes, Docket No. A-1109-09T2 (App… read more →

As an elder law attorney, I receive many inquires from potential clients asking me to evaluate a potential lawsuit against a sibling involving a deceased parent’s estate plan. The claim typically seeks to set aside a deceased parent’s will as invalid, the result of undue influence by a sibling. Typically, the potential client seeking a.. read more →