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Morristown Estate Litigation Blog

Do you have legal standing to contest a will?

Wills are important legal documents. When a person has one, the estate’s executor uses the document to know how to distribute property. Still, wills do not always eliminate potential problems. If you think your loved one’s will does not give you your fair share, you may want to contest it in court. 

To file a legal challenge, you must have legal standing. Law students take entire courses about the complicated concept. Generally, though, you can think about standing as a legally valid interest in the estate. That is, to have standing to contest a will, you must have a personal or financial interest in its outcome. 

Estate litigation: Contesting a will is not a walk in the park

When a loved one dies, it is normal to want to close out his or her estate as quickly as possible and move on with life. It is not something people want to dwell on or drag out for years. Unfortunately, some individuals may take issue with the contents of their loved one's will. When that happens, estate litigation may be the only way to resolve the matter in the state of New Jersey.

Before jumping on the litigation bandwagon, there are some things everyone needs to understand about contesting a will. First, litigation takes time and can cost a lot of money. Most attorneys will not take on estate litigation cases on a contingency fee. If a lawyer offers this option, it is best to check his or her record and experience level before accepting his or her services.

Have young kids at home? Get your estate planning done

Many New Jersey residents think that, when it comes to their estates, they do not need to put plans in place until they are older. Estate planning is not just for the older population, however. In fact, for individuals with young children at home, they are doing their families a disservice by not being prepared for the inevitable.

Everyone dies. Some people become incapacitated well before that happens. If either of these things occurs when a person has young children still living at home, who will take care of the kids? Who will manage assets until children are old enough to make financial decisions for themselves?

Assigning co-executors could lead to estate litigation

New Jersey residents who have more than one child may think that naming all of their children as co-executors of their estate is a good choice. Such a decision may make one's children feel that they are all important and valued, but it can also cause a number of issues. These issues, unfortunately, may end up requiring estate litigation to resolve.

The job of an executor is to ensure that an estate is closed out and all assets are appropriately distributed to beneficiaries. It can be a difficult role, and it is not a job that everyone is suited for. When picking an executor, it is necessary to really consider how well the people on one's short list will be able to handle the stress of this calling.

New Jersey elder law: Take the right steps to protect your assets

Any parent who has a good relationship with his or her children wants to believe that the children will have his or her best interests in mind when age or illness sets in and decisions need to be made regarding medical care and asset control. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Without taking the rights steps to protect oneself and one's assets, it is possible to lose everything. New Jersey residents can avoid a lot of pain, heartache and financial stress by speaking to an elder law attorney about how to properly protect themselves and their property.

A man in another state recently shared his story about losing his life savings to his son. He was a single father who worked hard and was able to achieve financial security, all while helping his son out financially when he needed it. At the age of 81, this gentleman's son convinced him to put his assets in his son's name in order to protect them from being taken by any of the retirement communities he was looking at moving into. Unfortunately, the son failed to live up to his end of the deal.

Can you trust your adult children with their inheritance?

Estate planning can be overwhelming due to all the choices you have to make. A common decision you may focus on is choosing your beneficiaries, those who will receive your money and property upon your passing. 

Just as important, however, is deciding how you will give an inheritance to a beneficiary. You may assume the best or only way is to just hand it over, but is that the right approach for your children? When you are not sure you can trust your adult children to be wise with an outright inheritance, then look into setting up a trust instead.

New Jersey estate planning: What does it take to set up a trust?

Creating an estate plan takes time. There are so many ways to approach the estate planning process, and what one person finds necessary, someone else may not. Take trusts for example. There are different types, and not everyone may see their benefit. This week, this column will go over the basic benefits of having a trust and what New Jersey residents need to do to set one up.

A trust is a good way to manage property and ensure that beneficiaries receive what is intended for them upon one's death. Before deciding if creating a trust is worth one's while, it is necessary to look at a number of factors. Some of these factors include:

  • Estate size
  • Age of the potential trust owner
  • Marital status of the potential trust owner
  • The goal of the trust

During the estate planning process, don't overlook a POA

Getting an estate plan together that has everything one needs can be a bit of a challenge. It may be easy to overlook certain legal documents that would be good for New Jersey residents to have. A power of attorney is a good example here. Not everyone thinks that a POA is a necessity and skip over it when going through the estate planning process, but it really can have its benefits.

A power of attorney is a document in which the principal picks a personal representative to handle certain affairs either now or in the event the principal becomes incapacitated. A general POA gives the representative the right to make all major decisions regarding one's assets and, possibly, health care treatments. A limited POA, on the other hand, gives the representative power to handle only the things listed in the POA document.

Tax planning for estate and inheritance taxes

When going through the estate planning process, it is normal to want to protect beneficiaries from experiencing a significant tax burden when they inherit the estate. Tax planning for both estate and inheritance taxes can go a long way in ensuring one's assets go to whom they are intended and not to Uncle Sam. This week, this column will give a basic overview of how estate and inheritance taxes work in the state of New Jersey.

First, let's discuss estate taxes. When someone dies, the federal government may require that taxes be paid on the value of their estate. The value of the estate has to be in the millions for estate taxes to be incurred. In order to determine the true value of an estate, one will need to take the net value of the estate and subtract any liabilities. As far as state taxes go, New Jersey no longer collects an estate tax.

Is a mystery man dazzling and influencing your elderly mom?

Your elderly, widowed mother seems to be smitten with a younger man she met at her senior center. He is a yoga instructor there and she has joined his class.

He takes her to lunch and they talk about what she calls “important things.” You are somewhat alarmed. Could this man be exercising undue influence over your mom?

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Thomas N. Torzewski, LLC

Torzewski & McInerney, LLC
60 Washington St
Suite 104
Morristown, NJ 07960

Phone: 973-532-2868
Fax: 973-359-0077
Morristown Office Location