After losing a loved one, the desire to get through estate administration as quickly as possible is understandable. However, there are times when holding things up and really digging into that individual's estate plan is necessary and for the best. While most wills and other estate planning documents are legally valid, there are those that are questionable. In New Jersey and elsewhere, estate litigation often arises over the desire to contest a will's validity.
When a person dies, his or her estate typically passes to his or her spouse, unless that individual is unmarried, widowed or leaves specific instructions stating that assets should go elsewhere. When a spouse is left out of a will, he or she can either accept it or, according to the state of New Jersey, may be entitled to claim an elective share. Doing the latter can lead to estate litigation.
There are those in New Jersey who take the time to put together estate plans in order to ensure that they, their loved ones and their assets are protected, should anything happen to them. While doing this is something that is strongly advised, if the wording in estate planning documents makes one's wishes unclear, all the planning and preparation may be for not. A prime example of this is the Tom Petty estate litigation case.
Some New Jersey residents, in an effort to prevent their beneficiaries from having to go through a long, drawn-out probate process, choose to create transfer-on-death beneficiary deeds. Under the right circumstances, and if everything is done just so, this can work, and there are benefits to going this route. Of course, such deeds are not without their drawbacks as well. For example, they only cover certain types of property, and it is possible to challenge them in court.
Putting an estate plan together serves a few very important purposes for New Jersey residents. First, it offers one protection in the event of incapacitation. Second, it offers protection for one's family in the event of one's incapacitation or death. Finally, third, it is supposed to ensure that assets are distributed to the proper parties upon one's death. Unfortunately, estate litigation often arises when family members or other parties take issue with how certain assets included in the estate are to be distributed.
When a loved one passes away, one would think that taking care of taxes, paying debts and administering assets would be fairly simple and straightforward. That may be true in some New Jersey probate cases, but there are those where estate litigation is an issue which makes the administration process seem to last forever. The battle over Prince's estate is a good example of just how taxing and time-consuming estate litigation and administration can be.
Famed musician Prince died in 2016 without a will in place. A judge ultimately named the singer's brothers and sisters as his heirs. Three years have gone by since his death and the beneficiaries have yet to have any assets distributed to them. Estate litigation rages on and there seems to be no end in sight for when this estate case will come to a close. While few estate cases in New Jersey will see issues as complex as those seen in the Prince estate case, some beneficiaries may find themselves dealing with some of the same issues that Prince's heirs have found themselves struggling with.
When New Jersey residents take the time to go through the estate planning process, the hope is that their assets will be distributed to their named beneficiaries in the manner stated in their wills. One small thing can mess up those plans, however -- typos. A typo in a will can lead to estate litigation, which can end up costing beneficiaries in the end. There is an ongoing case in another state that is the perfect example of this.
When someone dies intestate -- without a will -- in the state of New Jersey, his or her estate is subject to state succession laws. This means a judge will get to decide whom to name as the executor and beneficiaries, and how assets will be divided. For some families, this works out just fine in the end. For others, this can lead to estate litigation, as conflict may arise regarding how the estate is being handled.
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.