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Morristown Estate Litigation Blog

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.

Estate planning: Not like in the movies

There are many mistakes people make when it comes to planning an estate. Many individuals could avoid these mistakes with an attorney by their side. For instance, a lot of people seem to assume the only thing needed after death is a will. While a will is certainly important, people need to develop other documents to ensure all their assets become divided the way they want. 

Numerous misconceptions are a result of what people see on television and film. Movies tend to exaggerate or make up legal processes to create a more compelling storyline while the truth is generally much simpler. 

New Jersey estate litigation: Who can contest a will?

When a loved one passes away, it is not uncommon for one or more family members to question the validity of the will. It happens far more often than people would think. When it does, it is tempting to contest the will. According to laws in New Jersey and elsewhere, this can only be done under very specific circumstances and through the estate litigation process.

So, who can contest a will? Any family member or affected party may contest a will. The problem is whether he or she has the legal grounds to do so. There are generally only four reasons that the court will take the contesting of a will seriously. These are that the will was not signed in accordance with state laws, there is a question regarding testamentary capacity, concerns of undue influence and concerns of fraud.

New Jersey elder law: Overuse of drugs in nursing homes

When placing a loved on in a nursing home or other type of care facility, one wants to believe that staff members will do their best to care for him or her. In many instances, that does occur. However, a recent report about the overuse of antipsychotic drugs in such facilities was just released and the findings are quite disturbing. Those in New Jersey who believe that their family members in care facilities are being inappropriately drugged may turn to an elder law attorney for help.

Staff members at nursing homes and other care facilities are known to use drugs to sedate their patients in order to keep them under control. While there are some patients who may really require these medicines due to known and diagnosed mental illnesses, there are those who do not medically need them and are given them anyway. Human Rights Watch believes that roughly 179,000 individuals across the country who are currently nursing home patients receive these drugs when they really shouldn't.

How does Bitcoin fit into estate planning?

Quite a few Americans have invested in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. The rise of Bitcoin value has been quite extreme, making owners of the currency rather wealthy on paper. What happens to this digital currency when its owner passes away, though? Do loved ones get to automatically claim it? The answer is no, which is why including Bitcoin when going through the estate planning process is important for anyone in New Jersey who has it in their portfolio.

Digital assets are not automatically passed on, following a person's death. It can actually be quite difficult to access a loved one's digital assets if the proper legal protections have not been put in place. This is not just a Bitcoin problem; it is a problem in regard to all different types of digital assets.

Estate litigation often happens when a stepparent is involved

Many adult children in New Jersey and elsewhere whose parents remarry later in life fail to get along with their stepparents. When their parent dies, they may question a lot of things regarding the handling of their estates. Sometimes, in such situations, estate litigation is inevitable.

According to a recent article, stepparents -- particularly stepmothers -- are actually the root cause of numerous estate litigation cases. Why? First, stepparents and stepchildren do not always agree on how things should be handled. Second, some children may believe that their stepparent manipulated their biological parent into changing estate plans in order to benefit them and their own children.

Estate litigation over an art collection, yes it can happen

Many New Jersey residents are lovers of art. Some, so much so, that they build amazing art collections over the course of their lives. Having an affluent art collection can be a wonderful thing, but it can also cause issues if what to do with the collection is not properly spelled out in an estate plan. In fact, such collections are often behind estate litigation cases.

Art collections range in value, but many can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars -- if not millions. It is common for these collections to be left to loved ones or donated. If planned for properly, it is possible to transfer the pieces and reduce the tax burden -- both on the estate and for the beneficiary.

When recovery conflicts with continued guardianship

Guardianships are extremely important tools directed at protecting vulnerable adults in New Jersey when they are unable to take care of their own needs and decision-making. Often, they are permanent in nature because the adult is not going to recover or improve enough to become mentally self-sufficient.

However, sometimes they do recover enough to warrant a removal of the guardianship.

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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