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NJ Beneficiary Rights Blog

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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

Nov 07, 2018

James J. Costello, Jr. to Present on Using Trusts in Estate Planning and Asset Protection

James J. Costello, Jr., a Member of law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., and Co-Chair of its Trust, Estate and Individual Tax Group, will be a featured speaker at “Using Trusts in Estate Planning and Asset Protection,” sponsored by The National Business Institute (NBI).  » Read More

Nov 07, 2018

Nursing Homes Cannot Contractually Require You to Guarantee Payment of the Cost of a Family Member’s Care

Among the many issues that factor into whether a loved one should start receiving nursing-home care is the cost, especially when the need for this level of care develops quickly or is unexpected.  At some point during this time, when emotions are running high and it seems decisions must be made quickly, the facility may present you, as well as your family member, an admissions agreement that must be signed as part of your family member’s admission to the facility. » Read More

Oct 18, 2018

I’m the Beneficiary of an Estate or Trust- Why Does the Bank Need My Personal Information?

You don’t need to be a tax lawyer or accountant to appreciate the government’s heightened efforts to crack down on tax fraud and money laundering.  Trust and estate beneficiaries need to be aware that those efforts may now impact them as well.  » Read More

Oct 17, 2018

Promised Inheritance? Make Sure It’s in Writing!

It’s a common scenario- a couple gets married, each having children from a prior relationship.  They each set up their Wills to provide for the surviving spouse and then for all their children, collectively, when they are both gone.  The understanding is that when one dies, the survivor will not modify or revoke the survivor’s Will in a way that diminishes the inheritance of the children of the spouse who dies first. » Read More

Oct 03, 2018

Are Conversations from Beyond the Grave Admissible in Estate Litigation?

Following our post about vampire blogs, as the calendar turns to October and we approach Halloween, we’ll take a quick look at another other-worldly topic: how the decedent’s voice is admissible in estate litigation from beyond the grave.

Parties and other witnesses in estate litigation will frequently rely on or reference conversations they claim to have had with the deceased; and the attorney who drafted the document at issue, such as the decedent’s will or trust, is often viewed as a critical witness.  » Read More

Sep 18, 2018

No-Contest Clause, No Problem?

One of the most enduring myths about Wills is that if you leave someone $1 (or some other nominal amount) in your Will, that person cannot contest it. Implicit in this reasoning is that the Will also contains a so-called “no-contest” clause, sometimes known by its more sinister label, the “in terrorem” clause, which says that any provisions for someone who contests the Will are revoked. » Read More

Aug 28, 2018

When Is a Joint Account Not Really a Joint Account? When It’s for “Convenience Only.”

Prior blog posts (here and here) have addressed the limits of a Will by identifying numerous assets that pass not by Will upon death, but by some other means.  For example, life insurance, retirement benefits, and annuities pass not according to the provisions of a Will, but based on the named beneficiaries in the applicable beneficiary designation.  » Read More

Aug 02, 2018

A Vampire Will?

In a previous blog post, we discussed the fact that New Jersey law has trended away from a strict interpretation of what it takes to have a valid Will.  For example, a Will is valid in New Jersey if the signature and material portions of the document are in the decedent’s handwriting, a so-called “Holographic Will.”   Would that include a document written in the decedent’s own blood?  » Read More

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