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Morristown Estate Litigation Blog

Signs your parents might need a power of attorney

Your parents raised you, taught you right from wrong and shared with you their wisdom. This is why it can be so difficult for you and other New Jersey residents to see your parents age and lose some of their mental faculties. Whether your elderly parent is in the beginning stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease or simply has trouble keeping up with ever-changing technology, the time may come when he or she becomes vulnerable to financial predators.

There is no shortage of scammers who target the elderly and mentally incapacitated. Many are con artists who would attempt to trick your parents into giving their money to a false charity, sweepstakes or home improvement project. Others run complicated phone or internet scams, using threats or fear tactics to convince their targets that they will face legal or financial consequences for not paying up. Some might even be people your parents trust, such as a caregiver or family member.

New Jersey elder law: Preparing for what may come

No one wants to think that they will suffer some major medical event that will result in their incapacitation. No one wants to think about how age or illness could cause serious physical decline down the road. These things happen, though, to most people. New Jersey residents can help themselves and their loved ones by being prepared for what may come. An experienced elder law attorney can help with that. 

The simple truth of the matter is, no one knows what the future will bring. Some people do not want to believe that they will be dealt a bad hand when it comes to their physical well-being later in life. Others, on the other hand, understand that things happen and they need to be prepared. 

Estate litigation: Settlement finally reached Max Hopper case

A few months ago, this column addressed the massive financial award granted in the Max Hopper estate case. This was the highest amount awarded in an estate litigation case for the year 2017 and the ninth highest estate litigation payout granted in United States history. The defendant in the case continued to fight the matter, and it seems that a financial settlement has finally been reached between all parties. How is this relevant to New Jersey residents? It shows that estate litigation can take time but has its benefits.

In Nov. 2017, a jury awarded the children of Max Hopper -- a former American Airlines executive and creator of the company's reservation system -- $8 billion after JP Morgan Chase allegedly messed up the distribution of his estate -- valued at $19 million. JP Morgan was hired to handle the estate after Mr. Hopper died without a will in place. The bank has and still does deny any wrongdoing and has refused to accept such a huge payout.

New Jersey estate planning: Do I need a living will?

When thinking about the future, one doesn't really want to think about his or her ultimate demise. Yet, it is something that should be done. This is where estate planning enters the picture. Many New Jersey residents may think that this process is only for covering one's bases for when they die -- but it can do a lot more than that.

People hear of wills all the time. These documents states how one wants his or her assets distributed after death, along with any other information for loved ones to know. Living wills, on the other hand, may not be something with which people are really familiar. These documents state wants and wishes regarding medical care for when one is still alive but incapacitated and unable to express these wants and wishes.

Estate litigation and the Glen Campbell case

Glen Campbell, the country music star who is a legend in his own right, died in Aug. 2017. He left behind a massive estate, valued at around $50 million. His wife is said to be at least one of the beneficiaries of the estate, while three people -- the singer's children from a previous marriage -- were not included in his will. This has led to estate litigation and claims that Campbell's wife is to blame for their lack of inheritance. Such claims are fairly common, whether one is closing out an estate in New Jersey or elsewhere.

According to a recent report, a few of Glen Campbell's children have filed claims in court stating that their stepmother refused to let them visit their ailing father. She, on the other hand, has fought back, saying that the three children in question never extended a hand to help or offered to visit in their dad's final years of life. Mrs. Campbell took care of her husband at home until his disease progressed so much that he needed full-time nursing care. He died in a nursing home.

Estate planning tips for newlyweds

Whether you marry when you are 25 or 60, there is a lot you will need to take care of in the immediate future. Planning now will ensure you and your spouse are ready for the future whatever that may hold. 

Estate planning should be in your mind throughout your life. However, most people do not really think about it until they marry for the first time. The wedding day will be a joyous occasion, but make sure you sit down with your spouse after the honeymoon to really talk about your future. 

Estate planning can help to avoid or prevent undue influence

Undue influence is a real phenomenon in New Jersey and nationwide. It involves the exertion of pressure -- subtle or direct -- over an elderly person, which is intended to take advantage of the person's weakness, infirmity or other vulnerabilities, to improperly usurp the person's free will and make him or her give part or all the estate to the one exerting the undue influence. This may include attempted manipulation of the estate planning process for improper financial gain.

This happens more often to elderly persons who are isolated or intensely lonely, sometimes due to the loss of a spouse. Some predators even scan the death notices and evaluate certain cases for intercession. Sometimes, the influencer may instead be a family member, a financial advisor or a casual friend who intensifies the relationship with the ulterior intention of overpowering the individual's free will to obtain a position as a recipient of money or property, while the target is alive and as the main or sole beneficiary of the estate upon death.

Estate litigation common for blended families

With the high divorce rate in this county, the number of people in New Jersey and elsewhere who go on to marry again is pretty high. Blending families is a tough job for parents, and sometimes, no matter the efforts taken, there may be some bad blood between step siblings or even step parents. This, of course, can lead to estate litigation issues.

An attorney on the other side of the country recently shared his experiences in handling estate litigation cases involving blended families. He says the best way to avoid family disputes is by thorough estate planning. This may include setting up trusts, but these trusts must be funded to work -- which sometimes does not happen, creating even more issues.

New Jersey contested guardianships: Fighting for yourself

The ability to take guardianship of an adult has been made possible for good reason. Unfortunately, those seeking guardianships are not always doing so for the best interests of the individuals of whom they are placed in charge. When this happens, it may be possible to fight the validity of the guardianship in court. A New Jersey-based attorney who has experience handling contested guardianships may prove extremely helpful in doing this.

Guardians have a duty of care to the individuals they are called to take care of. Unfortunately, too many people are using the legal system to take advantage of older Americans. There are numerous stories of older adults who have been hurt or who have taken ill, losing their freedom due to people they don't even know seeking and obtaining guardianship over them while they are in the process of getting treatment.

Personal representative problems and estate litigation

You recently lost a loved one and are going through the probate process in New Jersey. The person assigned as the personal representative of the estate is supposedly working away and getting things done, but you are not sure they are doing everything right. There are issues with assets, and you are worried that you and the other beneficiaries will end up with less than you should because of this one person's mistakes. Through the estate litigation process, you can take these issues to court.

A personal representative has a tough job. There is a lot involved, and if the person assigned to this role is not familiar with all the procedures or state probate laws, a lot of mistakes can be made that can hurt beneficiaries down the line. If this person tries to administer the estate in a way that only benefits him or her personally, that is just flat out against the law and is a breach of duty and responsibility.

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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