A New Jersey appellate court ruled that a court can alter the plain and unambiguous language of a trust when extrinsic evidence suggests that the trust language is not what the settlor intended. In the Matter of the Trust of Violet Nelson, Deceased, Docket No. A-4004-15T1 (App. Div. March 28, 2018). Violet and Joseph Nelson had.. read more →

A New Jersey appeals court vacated an order approving a settlement and placing it in a special needs trust (SNT), ruling that there was no “meeting of the minds” between the parties. V.M. v. Jersey Shore University Medical Center, (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div., A-0781-16T1, Nov. 3, 2017). LaTanya Murphy and her adult son V.M… read more →

The defendant, who was the agent under his aunt’s power of attorney and executor of her estate, was sued by beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate for breach of fiduciary duty as her agent and executor. The power of attorney and will were executed in 1998. The plaintiffs alleged that, beginning in 2001, the defendant wrongfully.. 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 →

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 →

Before Mr. Trotman was admitted to a nursing home, he resided in a home that he owned. He had difficulty maintaining the home and paying the bills, so his daughter began paying his bills in 2007. In December 2011, Mr. Trotman asked his daughter to assume full responsibility for the property, which then was also.. read more →

Happy Holidays to clients, supporters, friends and readers. Listed below are the ten (10) eleven (11) posts on the Vanarelli Law Office blog with the highest readership in 2017. After each hyperlinked blog post title, the original post date is included. Check out the list to see this year’s highlights. Our sincere thanks for taking.. read more →

Louis Acerra, the decedent, died at the age of 30 from injuries he suffered in a house fire. He survived more than two years after the fire before finally succumbing to those injuries. During those two years, he was cared for by Richard Litwin. Litwin had been in a relationship with the decedent’s mother when.. 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 →

The 19th Annual Elder and Disability Law Symposium was held on November 9, 2017 at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick, NJ. As in past years, I presented the case law update at the opening plenary session. This year I summarized 40 elder and disability law cases decided from September 2016 through August.. read more →

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 →

2017 Elder and Disability Law Symposium ‘Elder and Disability Law Update’ to be presented by leading NJ Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney, Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq. Westfield, NJ – October 15, 2015 — Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq. (http://VanarelliLaw.com/) will participate in the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education’s 20th Annual Elder and Disability.. 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 →

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 2005, Stuart and Phyllis Rauch purchased a nursing home facility through an LLC they formed. Their son Eric convinced them to hire his wife, Shan Chin, as a bookkeeper. The business suffered financial losses; by 2008, its net losses exceeded $585,000. In 2009, after losing his job at a law firm, Eric approached his.. read more →

Plaintiff Christopher Hermanns had been an adjunct college professor. He claimed that he quit his job at his father’s request to work in his father’s linen rental business (the “Company”). His father was the sole shareholder of the business, although plaintiff served as the president for six years. According to plaintiff, during his years of.. read more →

On August 10, 2017, I presented at the 2017 Sophisticated Elder Law Program on Medicaid litigation strategies. I provided an overview of various strategies and tactics which have been used successfully in litigation involving Medicaid and other needs-based public benefits in state and federal courts and in administrative agencies. I prepared a paper and PowerPoint slides.. read more →

A U.S. district court ruled that a group of Medicaid applicants do not have a private right of action to sue the state for not issuing Medicaid eligibility determinations with 45 days and that the applicants were not denied due process by the delay. Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, Inc. v. Randol  (U.S. Dist. Ct., D… read more →

In McDermott-Guber v. Estate of McDermott, parents deeded a one-half property interest in a vacant parcel to their daughter in 1986. The daughter and her husband began building a home on the property. According to the daughter, after her father died and left her mother as the sole owner of the remaining one-half interest, her.. read more →

Plaintiff Neil Epstein sued Barbara Epstein Petka, claiming that, as a result of her fraud and misrepresentation, the decedent had removed the plaintiff as a beneficiary of his will and living trust. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss in lieu of an answer, claiming that the complaint failed to state a claim pursuant to.. read more →

In a case of first impression in New Jersey, Hon. Stephan C. Hansbury, Presiding Judge of the Chancery Court in Morris County permitted service of process through postings on Facebook. The court held that when service of process cannot be served on a defendant by traditional means, the rules of civil procedure permit an alternate.. read more →

For additional information concerning NJ elder law and special needs planning visit: https://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 →