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Estate litigation: When a monetary gift is not used as intended

| Jul 1, 2020 | Elder Law |

Numerous New Jersey residents choose to give away some of their money as gifts to various institutions when they die. Does this mean that these institutions can use the assets however they want? Not necessarily. If restrictions are put on the gift and it comes to light that the receiving organization is using the funds improperly, estate litigation may be needed to resolve the situation.

In another state, the heirs of a prominent attorney have been trying to reopen their father’s estate after learning that the $30 million he bequeathed to a law school is not being used per the gift restrictions. The funds are supposed to be used to cover full-ride scholarships for 30 students per year. Instead, it seems that the school is utilizing most of the money to attract other donors and pay fundraising staff salaries.

The school denies any wrongdoing and claims this is not an estate issue but rather something to be handled through the attorney general’s office — despite the fact that no lawsuit has been filed against the school. The heirs simply want to enforce the terms of the gift. The reopening of the estate may not be necessary if the school is willing to reach an agreement with the decedent’s family without taking the matter to court.

When a loved one tries to do some good in the world by endowing a portion of his or her estate to a good cause, it can be disheartening to learn that the gift is not being used as intended. This is not something that heirs have to sit back and let happen. With the assistance of an experienced estate litigation attorney, those dealing with an issue like this in New Jersey may be able to take steps to correct the issue as quickly as possible.