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 →

Following Joan McBride’s death, her sons from her first marriage asserted claims against her second husband Charlie, who had served as Joan’s power of attorney and executor of her will. Joan and Charlie married in 1997 and remained married until Joan’s death in 2016. The sons claimed Charlie unduly influenced Joan in connection with certain.. 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 →

This appeal concerned the trial court’s ruling that a 2013 deed was valid. The appellants, who were appointed co-executors of the decedent’s will, claimed that the deed was the product of undue influence. The decedent had owned a condominium and, in 2012, she executed a deed conveying that interest to herself and her niece, as.. 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 →

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 →

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled that a New Jersey attorney is liable for damages for using undue influence to take $391,000 from an elderly relative. Jane Adkins sued her brother, New Jersey attorney John Sogliuzzo, in federal court, claiming that her brother misappropriated assets belonging to Mary Grimley, their mother’s.. 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 →

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 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 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 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 →

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 →

Renee Halpecka died in 2005 when she was 84 years old. Before her death, Renee had been very ill for many years and was cared for by her husband. After her husband died in 2001, Rosemary Walsh, a neighbor, became Renee’s caretaker and served as her agent under a financial power of attorney and medical.. 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 a lawsuit challenging the validity of a decedent’s Last Will and Testament is that the will was the result of “Undue Influence.” “Undue Influence” is defined by our courts as “’mental, moral or physical’.. 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 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 →

The concept of what constitutes a “confidential relationship” (one of the elements creating a presumption of undue influence) was examined by the New Jersey Appellate Division in Matter of the Estate of Jewell B. Sykes, N.J. App. Div. No. A-1109-09T2 (Aug. 19, 2010). In Sykes, the decedent’s daughter/co-executor (“Evelyn”) challenged the validity of two leases.. read more →