Estate Law Blog

Covid-19 Estate Planning -- Remote Online Notarization Urgently Need in NJ
Covid-19 Estate Planning -- Remote Online Notarization Urgently Need in NJ

As I write this, on April 6, New Jersey has more Covid-19 cases than any state other than New York.  The need for New Jersey residents to address their estate planning --  to make a Will, a...

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Estate Planning and Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Estate Planning and Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We are -- as we're continuually reminded -- in uncharted waters.  As of this writing, all New Jersey residents are under order to remain home except under very limited circumstances.  Go...

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The Enigma of Attorneys’ Fees in Probate Litigation
The Enigma of Attorneys’ Fees in Probate Litigation

One recurring challenge in my practice is that it’s difficult to advise a client about how attorneys’ fees are likely to be handled in contested probate. I’ve spoken and written on t...

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Spousal Election in New Jersey
Spousal Election in New Jersey

New Jersey, like virtually every state, allows a spouse to take an “elective share” of their deceased spouse’s estate. The general notion, and the national model, is that you can&rsq...

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Jointly Held Assets and Estate Administration
Jointly Held Assets and Estate Administration

One recurring theme in my practice is that jointly held assets present a host of potential problems in the administration of a decedent’s estate. Generally, what I’m thinking of is bank ac...

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Are joint bank accounts and joint brokerage accounts really the same?
Are joint bank accounts and joint brokerage accounts really the same?

Joint bank accounts and joint investment accounts are the source of so many of the estate disputes I see in my practice. While joint bank accounts and joint brokerage accounts may seem like more or le...

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What is “Notice of Probate” anyway?
What is “Notice of Probate” anyway?

When representing a personal representative in my probate practice, it not unusual for my client to scoff at the idea of making a formal notice of probate. Take a common situation in which the...

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Is a joint bank account an Estate asset?
Is a joint bank account an Estate asset?

I was speaking recently with an excellent estate planning attorney, discussing the matter of joint bank accounts. From the point of view of the estate planning lawyer, joint bank accounts looked like...

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The rights of a mentally incapacitated person
The rights of a mentally incapacitated person

A client comes to my office to discuss guardianship proceedings for her elderly mother. Her mother is no longer able to take care of herself, and without a durable power of attorney it is increasingly...

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Notice of probate from a litigator’s perspective
Notice of probate from a litigator’s perspective

Many of the estate administrations we handle come to us midstream.  Many people, when they learn they’re named as executor in a Will, begin the probate process without counsel;  I have...

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The time to investigate whether or nor to challenge a Will: before it’s too late
The time to investigate whether or nor to challenge a Will: before it’s too late

I’ve written here about how little time a litigant has to challenge the probate of a Will in New Jersey. Under Rule 4:85-1, in almost all circumstances, an action to set aside the probate must b...

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How late can the probate of a Will be challenged?
How late can the probate of a Will be challenged?

“In delay there lies no plenty.” In estate litigation, there’s rarely reason to delay, and often every reason to act quickly. Once probate has been granted, assets can be liquidat...

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New Jersey Ancillary Administration: Part 2 – Ancillary Probate
New Jersey Ancillary Administration: Part 2 – Ancillary Probate

In the majority of cases that come into my office in NJ, actual ancillary probate is not necessary.  If the decedent died with a Will in an another state owning property in New Jersey, most of th...

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Probating an unsigned Will?
Probating an unsigned Will?

The notion that a signature should always be required for certain important documents and instruments continues to fade in New Jersey law, and it appears that the door may be open to probating a Will...

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What is the standard for temporary restraints in estate litigation?
What is the standard for temporary restraints in estate litigation?

At the beginning of estate litigation, it’s not unusual for a party to apply for temporary restraints, usually in the first filing with the court. Temporary restraints are akin to what are more...

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Dying without a Will: the most surprising intestacy law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Dying without a Will: the most surprising intestacy law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

My office is nearly on the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and I recently posted about what I consider the most significant difference between the intestacy rules in the two states. The in...

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Dying without a Will: the most significant difference between Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Dying without a Will: the most significant difference between Pennsylvania and New Jersey

In mind of the fact that estate planning is a significant part of my firm’s practice, it’s surprising how often I’m asked: what happens if I die without a Will? We are a few miles...

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New Jersey Ancillary Administration: Part 1 – Avoid Ancillary Administration by Recording the Will
New Jersey Ancillary Administration: Part 1 – Avoid Ancillary Administration by Recording the Will

When handling a decedent’s Estate, one common and sometimes thorny problem is property owned by decedent in another state. Often, the only option is to conduct what is called ancillary administr...

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Avoiding Administration of Small Estates
Avoiding Administration of Small Estates

Except where a married couple has had careful estate planning, more often than not the death of the first spouse creates an unexpected estate administration problem. It’s very common for nearly...

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Undue Influence and Joint Bank Accounts
Undue Influence and Joint Bank Accounts

In my practice, it’s common for me to learn that a decedent held a joint bank account with an adult child or other trusted person in the belief that a joint account would be a convenient way for...

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Long Term Care Options
Long Term Care Options

Although many of us would rather not think about needing long-term care, the federal government website http://longtermcare.gov/ notes that 70% of people turning age 65 can expect to use som...

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Aging in Place By Design
Aging in Place By Design

Planning to Age in Place:  Should You Consider Home Modification? Americans are living longer and overwhelmingly wish to stay in their own homes as long as possible.  At the same tim...

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