For additional information concerning NJ elder law and special needs planning visit: http://vanarellilaw.com/legal-services/ read more →

Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq. (http://VanarelliLaw.com/) will present at the “2017 Sophisticated Elder Law” seminar given by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education on August 10, 2017 at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Mr. Vanarelli will provide an overview of strategies and tactics which have been used successfully in litigation.. read more →

The decedent, Kathryn Parker Blair, had executed a will bequeathing her estate to her siblings and directing that, if any of her siblings predeceased her, that sibling’s share would pass to his or her surviving children. After the death of the decedent’s brother, the decedent executed a new will omitting the brother’s child (“petitioner”) as.. 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 →

In 1992, Ann Mark created two irrevocable trusts for the benefit of her three children. In 1997, Jared Scharf became the successor trustee for the trusts, and used some of those assets to form a separate trust for each of Ms. Mark’s three children. Each of the trusts stated that they were governed by New.. 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 →

New Jersey Appellate Division rules prospective client’s correspondence with law office secretary who did not mention the matter to the attorney failed to establish an attorney-client relationship for purposes of a legal malpractice suit. Shapiro v. Rinaldi, Docket No. A-1753-14T4 (App. Div.,March 18, 2016) After falling in a pot hole on a city street and injuring.. 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 →

Happy New Year to clients, supporters, friends and readers. Last month, an article on this blog ranked the 25 most popular blog posts and website articles on the Vanarelli Law Office website in 2015. Since then, I decided to narrow my focus a little. In this post, I focused solely on blog posts, and created.. 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 →

In 2003, Michael Yahatz opened a bank account. The following year, the bank was acquired by Bank of America (“BOA”) and the account was converted to a money market account. In 2005, Mr. Yahatz signed a BOA signature card, which included an acknowledgement that the account would be governed by BOA’s deposit agreement. The deposit.. read more →

On March 9, 2015, I blogged about an Appellate Division case holding that marriage does not create a presumptive right to a deceased spouse’s life insurance benefits. That blog can be found here. In In re Estate of Matchuk, the Appellate Division extended that holding to funds in a deceased spouse’s retirement accounts. In Matchuk,.. read more →

In this case, an Ocean County judge ruled that litigants in domestic violence cases who want to introduce evidence contained on their cell phones, such as texts, emails, social media messages, or audio/visual evidence, must first provide such evidence to the court and the adversary in tangible form, such as on a printout or a.. read more →

Nancy Gimenez-Watson was a resident of Brighton Gardens of Edison, an assisted living facility (ALF) operated by Sunrise Senior Living and its parent company. Mrs. Watson was in the “Reminiscence Plus” program for residents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In April 2008, Mrs. Watson choked on her food. After a Brighton Gardens nurse administered.. read more →

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals  for the Third Judicial Circuit ruled this week that a school district in suburban Philadelphia was within its rights to fire Natalie Munroe, an English teacher in the district who blogged that her students were “rude, disengaged, lazy whiners.”  Munroe v. Central Bucks School District (3d Cir., September 4, 2015) Natalie.. read more →

Following the death of Kenneth Kanter, his son contested the validity of Mr. Kanter’s will and several quitclaim deeds Mr. Kanter had purportedly executed. These documents were drafted and/or prepared by the decedent’s brother, Sidney Kanter, who is a suspended New Jersey attorney. The parties mediated the case and reached a settlement of the matter… read more →

In a recent case involving a holographic will, the California Supreme Court overturned an historical rule in the probate laws of California and most other States (including New Jersey) barring the admission of extrinsic evidence to reform an unambiguous will, thereby permitting reformation of an unambiguous will to correct a mistake. Estate of Duke, S199435 (July.. read more →

Preparing to be deposed in a civil litigation can be a daunting task. A deposition is a key fact-finding tool of pretrial discovery, in which a party or a witness is asked a series of questions under oath. In a typical case, the questions are asked by the party who is adverse to your case… read more →

In May 2010, Anthony Douglas Elonis’s wife of nearly seven years left him, taking with her their two young children. Elonis was an active user of the social networking web site Facebook. After his family left him, Elonis began “listening to more violent music” and posting on Facebook self-styled “rap” lyrics inspired by the music… read more →

In DeSimone v. Springpoint Senior Living, the son of a deceased CCRC resident sued the owner/operator and CEO of five continuing care retirement communities (“CCRCs”) in New Jersey. The suit, which was brought individually and as a class action, alleged violations of the CCRC Act and the Consumer Fraud Act (“CFA”), in addition to common.. read more →

A Pennsylvania appeals court held that beneficiaries omitted from trust have standing to sue the attorney who prepared the trust as third-party beneficiaries if they can show they were intended beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate. Agnew v. Ross (PA Superior Ct., No. 2195 EDA 2014, February 2, 2015) In 2003, Robert H. Agnew hired attorney Daniel.. 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 recent ethics opinion from the California State Bar Association, Formal Opinion Interim No. 11-0004, begins as follows: “An attorney’s obligations under the ethical duty of competence evolve as new technologies develop and then become integrated with the practice of law.” Gulp! In other words, the law bans luddites, or those opposed to, or slow.. read more →

In the May 30, 2014 Kongtcheu v. Secaucus Healthcare Center decision, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey denied the defendant nursing home’s motion to dismiss a claim against it brought by nursing home resident Philbert F. Kongtcheu. In Kongtcheu, the pro se nursing home resident brought a variety of claims.. read more →