In the Matter of the Estate of Anna Fabics involved multiple lawsuits, motions, and other pleadings filed by the decedent’s son Joseph against Joseph’s brother Laszlo. Their mother’s will left her residuary estate to her two sons equally, and appointed Laszlo as executor. The will directed the executor to sell all property of the estate.. 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 →

The testator, Harold Becker, executed a Last Will and Testament leaving his estate to his youngest son, Brandon (the child of the Mr. Becker’s second marriage), to the exclusion of his older sons, Scott and Stuart (the children of his first marriage). Mr. Becker’s will appointed his second wife (the couple were divorced but later.. read more →

Before his death, Arthur Zito was the subject of a contested guardianship litigation, in which his sons Arthur Jr. and David had sought to become Mr. Zito’s guardian. (A third son, Stephen, was not a party to this litigation.) After the court appointed Mr. Zito’s daughter Laura as guardian, Arthur Jr. and David moved to.. 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 →

The decedent, William Anton, was survived by his wife, with whom he was in the midst of divorce proceedings, and by his three children. A few weeks before his death, Mr. Anton, along with his son-in-law Keith, met with an estate attorney. After Mr. Anton told the attorney that he did not know where his.. 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 →

(The following excerpt is a portion of a brief prepared by my Law Firm in support of a successful application we filed in Court seeking an Order admitting a letter to probate as the decedent’s Last Will and Testament. The letter was handwritten by the decedent and altered with extensive cross-outs and additions,) The technical requirements.. 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 →

Following the decedent’s death, one of his three children applied for summary administration of the estate pursuant to N.J.S.A. 3B:10-4, which governs intestate estates that do not exceed $10,000. More than two years later, the estranged wife of one of the decedent’s children filed an action for probate, claiming that there was a 2005 will.. 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 →

In general, an incapacitated person is to be represented in any litigation by a guardian, or “if no such guardian has been appointed or a conflict of interest exists between a guardian and ward or for other good cause, by a guardian ad litem appointed by the Court.” R. 4:26-2(a); Village Apartments v. Novack, 383.. read more →

When our law office prepares a Last Will and Testament and other estate documents for a client, we usually conduct a signing ceremony and then give the client the original and one photocopy of the Will for their records. Other attorneys have similar procedures. On occasion, however, rather than provide clients with a photocopy of.. read more →

A Chancery Court judge determined that the administrator of an insolvent estate in New Jersey must first exhaust all efforts to satisfy creditors from probate assets before the attachment of non-probate assets should be considered. Matter of the Estate of Turco, Chancery Div., Probate Part-Essex County (Koprowski, J.S.C., July 22, 2013) Jerry Turco died testate.. read more →

What is Probate? “Probate” is the name of the process which permits an Executor to transfer assets as directed by a deceased person, or decedent, in his or her Last Will and Testament to recipients, or beneficiaries, according to the terms of the Will. The deceased person who made the Will is called the “testator.”.. read more →

In my January 20 blog post, I discussed the time limits imposed under R. 4:85-1 of the New Jersey Court Rules for filing challenges to the probate of a will. In an Appellate Division case decided on January 18, 2013, the effect of an administrator’s fraud on those time limits was addressed, in Matter of.. read more →

A challenge to a will (as opposed to, for example, (1) a challenge to non-probate designations; (2) a challenge to pre-death transfers by a power of attorney; or (3) a challenge to the actions of an executor following probate of a will) may be initiated two ways. First, by way of a caveat; second, by.. read more →

(The 15th Annual Elder and Disability Law Symposium was held on October 3, 2012 at the New Jersey Law Center, in New Brunswick, NJ. This year, as in the past few years, I gave the case law update at the opening plenary session by summarizing the top ten (10) or so elder and disability law.. read more →

In a published opinion, the New Jersey Appellate Division took a further step away from requiring strict compliance with statutory formalities required for wills when it considered whether an unexecuted copy of a typed original will “sufficiently represents decedent’s final testamentary intent to be admitted into probate under N.J.S.A. 3B:3-3.” The court found that it.. read more →

Where an original last will and testament is lost or cannot be found upon the testator’s death, a photocopy of that will may be admitted to probate. In determining whether such relief is appropriate, “the key issue is whether the testator had the intent to revoke the missing will.” In re Estate of Schenecker, 2011.. read more →

A New Jersey appellate court held that intentionally withholding information in mediation does not invalidate the resulting settlement agreement. Matter of the Estate of Lillian L. Fischer, Deceased (N.J. Super. Ct., App. Div., No. A-0091-10T2, June 14, 2011)(unpublished). This matter involved a probate dispute between Catherine S. Richards, the 91 year old domestic partner of.. read more →

In New Jersey, a document may be accepted for probate as a will in a number of ways. First, under the formal requirements of  N.J.S.A. 3B:3-2(a), a traditional will shall be (1) in writing; (2) signed by the testator or in the testator’s name by some other individual in the testator’s conscious presence and at.. read more →