Following are some common types of litigation that arise in the context of estate administration:
Will Contests – People who are disinherited often dispute the validity of the will, claiming that the testator was not well enough to make a will, or was forced or tricked into making the will. Questions are also raised about valid will execution. Which side wins depends not only on the facts but also on the persuasiveness and conviction of the attorney who is arguing the case.
Distribution Disagreements – In the course of New Jersey estate administration or probate, issues may arise over who gets what and how much. Often times, beneficiaries feel they are entitled to a certain item of property or sum of money, and executors or administrators may disagree. In many of those cases, more than just hard numbers are at play. This is where a qualified estates attorney can assist to protect your position and secure the best possible distribution.
Addressing the Way the Estate is Handled – It’s no secret that estate beneficiaries are not always satisfied with the way the estate is handled. If a disagreement is brewing, we encourage the people who are handling the estate to submit a formal accounting to the court. On the one hand, if the accounting reveals irregularities, those handling the estate will have to compensate the estate and may be subject to removal as fiduciaries. On the other hand, if the accounting is solid and the allegations have no basis, those bringing the objections may be surcharged for the administrator’s expenses and attorneys fees. We help our clients show their case in the best possible light in accounting and fiduciary removal proceedings.
Questions of Kinship – Relationship to the decedent is not always clear, even to the people involved. This is especially true of adopted and step-children when the record is unclear. Fortunately, many evidentiary tools are available to determine kinship. We will find the evidence that is on your side and use it to argue your case.
Claims by a Spouse – Under Jew Jersey’s Elective Share Statute, a spouse is entitled to at least one-third of the estate, even if they are disinherited by a will or the decedent transferred property to someone else before death. Sometimes a conflict arises between a spouse and a paramour. We help our clients secure their rightful intestate share and/or elective share in New Jersey.
Unlcear Wills or Trusts – Wills and trusts are not always clear, leaving out important details such as names of people and organizations that are inheriting. Furthermore, circumstances change in a way that may make the will no longer useful in distributing a part of the estate. The facts are often sparse, and the way the case is argued can make all the difference. This is when can assist to have the will read or reformed by the court to our clients’ best advantage.