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 →

Following their father’s death and the appointment of Brandon Marrazzo (“Brandon”) as executor of the estate, Brandon’s brother Todd Marrazzo (“Todd”) filed a caveat against probate of the will. The brothers litigated the estate case, and eventually executed a consent order resolving their issues. One provision of the consent order permitted Todd the option to.. read more →

The decedent, John F. Piazza, died a widower in 2012, survived by three children: Barbara Piazza (“Barbara”), John H. Piazza (“John”), and Debra Elly Shaefer (“Debra”). His will appointed Barbara as executrix, and left his residuary estate to his three children equally. However, there was a purported codicil to his will, which disinherited Debra. Following.. 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 →

At the time of Carol Rankins’ death in 2015, she had been married to Clyde Rankins for 28 years. She had one adopted daughter and two daughters from a prior relationship. The decedent’s surviving spouse was granted letters of administration of her intestate estate. One of her surviving daughters, Ursula, later filed a complaint seeking.. read more →

Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq. (https://vanarellilaw.com/) participated in the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education’s “2018 Elder Law in a Day” Seminar held on July 11, 2018 at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick, NJ. Mr. Vanarelli provided the “Case Law Update: The Year In Review” – a review of the cases decided.. read more →

During his relationship with life partner Marc Coleman, the decedent executed a Last Will and Testament naming Coleman as the executor and primary beneficiary of his estate. The couple later ended their relationship. Thereafter, the decedent entered into a new relationship with Kirston Baylock. The decedent later died unexpectedly. At issue was a hand-written codicil.. read more →

The decedent was a widow with no family. She had a close relationship with her neighbors. Shortly after a birthday party for the neighbors’ daughter, she handed the neighbors a check for $100, along with a 5-page document the decedent signed using her nickname, “A.J.” At trial, there was no dispute that the decedent possessed.. 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 →

Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq. (http://VanarelliLaw.com/) will facilitate a discussion at the upcoming  “Unprogram” presented by the New Jersey Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys on April 25, 2018 at the Wyndham Hotel in the Philadelphia Historic District, 400 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA. The UnProgram is a forum in which elder law practitioners.. read more →

Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq. (http://VanarelliLaw.com/) will present at the 20th Annual Elder and Disability Law 2-Day Retreat to be held on April 26-27, 2018 at the Wyndham Hotel in the Philadelphia Historic District, 400 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA by the New Jersey State Bar Association Elder &  Disability Law Section and the New Jersey Institute for.. read more →

The decedent, Dr. Evan Merritt London, was single with no children. He executed a number of wills and trusts over the years, with the trusts as the primary vehicle for disposing of his estate. He would make periodic trust revisions in which his beneficiaries (including his niece and nephew, his best friend, and various charities).. 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 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 →