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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

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

Jun 04, 2018

I was Excluded as a Beneficiary, but Don’t Think it was Intended; am I out of Luck? Maybe Not!

We all know what certain words mean, particularly in the context of family.  We know who our spouse is, who our children are, and who our grandchildren are.  But sometimes it’s not that simple, and it becomes necessary to go beyond written words to determine someone’s true intention. » Read More

Mar 19, 2018

It’s Never Too Late (Sometimes) to Assert Rights as a Beneficiary

You don’t have to be a lawyer to be familiar with the concept of a “Statute of Limitations.”  In other words, legal rights must be asserted within a reasonable time frame. Otherwise, you’re out of luck.

Prior blog posts (here and here) have addressed this issue in the context of estates and trusts.  » Read More

Jan 26, 2018

A Will is Not the Only Way

Previous blog posts – like this one and this one – have described the limits of a Will. Wills dispose of assets titled solely in the name of the decedent (the person who died).  That’s it.  They do not control the disposition of assets that pass by beneficiary designation, such as retirement accounts (IRAs, 401(k)’s, annuities, etc.) and life insurance policies, nor do they control assets titled “joint-with-right-of-survivorship” or “pay-on-death.”  The named beneficiary of retirement accounts and life insurance policies receives those assets regardless of the provisions of a Will.  » Read More

May 01, 2017

The Trustee Of My Parent’s Trust Is Using The Trust Assets As A Personal Piggy Bank. What Can I Do?

A Fiduciary is a person placed in a position of trust, whether as an Executor, Agent under a Power of Attorney, Health Care Agent, or Trustee.  Any Fiduciary has a sacred legal duty to carry out the responsibilities bestowed by the governing document, whether it is a Will, Power of Attorney, Health Directive, or Trust Agreement.   » Read More

Mar 13, 2017

Does The Executor Of A Will Have The Right To Make Funeral Arrangements For The Decedent?

Although the intuitive response to that question would likely be “yes,” that would be incorrect in many circumstances.  New Jersey Law provides that a person may, in a Will, appoint someone to control their funeral and disposition of their remains.  The person appointed can be someone other than the Executor. » Read More

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