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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

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

Jul 10, 2018

Beneficiary Rights of Separated Spouses

The tragic deaths of celebrities Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade brought attention to the critical importance of recognizing and treating depression.  In the case of Kate Spade, it also highlights the beneficiary rights of separated spouses.  Ms. Spade’s husband revealed that he and his wife had been separated for almost a year prior to her death.  » Read More