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Guardians of Your Will

NJ Beneficiary Rights Law Blog

Exploring beneficiary rights law and probate matters in New Jersey.

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Jun 01, 2021

The Importance of Exculpatory Language in Litigation against Fiduciaries

A recent ruling serves as a good reminder of the importance of assessing all aspects of a claim before taking the decisive action of filing a complaint. Particularly, when evaluating a potential claim against a corporate fiduciary, which often has more resources than most beneficiaries (whose legal fees may or may not be paid from the estate or trust), a beneficiary considering litigation must identify a legal cause of action; determine the evidence available to support each cause of action; plan how to obtain additional evidence that is required but may not be readily available; and, as the ruling emphasizes, understand the effect of any exculpatory language in the will or trust. » Read More

Feb 08, 2021

Understanding Your Duties as Attorney in Fact, and Three Practical Tips to Comply With Them

Most clients understand that the executor of an estate or trustee of a trust has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the estate or trust. This means, in general, that the executor or trustee is accountable to the beneficiaries to act only as directed by the Will or Trust, and the executor or trustee cannot seek to benefit himself at the expense of the beneficiaries. » Read More

Nov 02, 2020

Court Affirms That Children Cannot Sue on Behalf of a Parent Solely by Virtue of Being the Parent’s Child

A recent court decision stating that children do not have the legal standing to sue on behalf of their parents, simply by being their child and closest family member, reiterates the need for older parents and their adult children to engage in basic planning for the possibility of the parent experiencing a loss of capacity, or even diminished capacity, which could leave the parent vulnerable to exploitation. » Read More

Apr 09, 2020

Executing New Jersey Estate Planning Documents During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our daily lives. Social distancing measures advanced by the CDC (i.e., maintaining six feet of distance, no group gatherings, wearing masks outside, setting aside documents traveling in the mail for 2-3 days to allow the virus to die on surfaces) are designed to slow the spread of the virus by flattening the curve and keep us safe. » Read More

Sep 24, 2019

Three Factors to Consider After the Death of a Joint Bank Account Owner

We have all heard the expression about the “poor man’s will” being created by adding children or spouses as joint owners of one’s assets, including bank accounts.

The rationale is that this avoids the judicial probate process by having all of one’s assets pass outside of probate, according to the joint designation. » Read More

Jan 07, 2019

When a Copy or Unsigned Will May Be Good Enough

We all know how important it is to have a will.  Yet, we see one celebrity after another, with substantial estates and who could pay to receive the best advice, die without one.  Until recently, the law viewed the issue as an “either/or” – either you had a validly executed will when you died, or you did not, in which case your assets passed by the laws of intestacy, which were intended to reflect traditional expectations of how a person would want his assets to pass (first to his spouse, then to his children, etc.). » Read More

Jan 03, 2019

Undue Influence Can Unwind Lifetime Gifts

The care of an elderly parent can present an existential threat to family harmony and unity even in the closest of families. Even in large families where caregiving responsibilities can ostensibly be shared equitably, it is not uncommon for one or more children to shoulder much more of the burden than the others. » Read More