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Kearny Estate Blog

What is undue influence?

One of the most difficult things about going through the probate process, or even administering a trust that operates outside of probate, is handling conflict between those who stand to benefit from a will or trust.

It is unfortunate, but sometimes, even despite the best planning, formal will contests or legal challenges to a trust are inevitable, as a disgruntled would-be heir or beneficiary is willing to do what they legally can to get what they think they deserve.

Remedies when an attorney in fact behaves badly

A previous post on this blog discussed what a New Jersey resident, can do if he or she suspects that a loved one is being taken advantage of by his or her attorney in fact. To review, an attorney in fact is someone the loved one appointed via a power of attorney to handle the loved one's financial affairs.

While the previous post talked about what someone can do going forward. For instance, a person can revoke the power of attorney and stop abusive transfers of property.

How to detect misuse of power of attorney

When you are working on your estate plan and granting power of attorney, this person will need to be someone you fully trust since they you are giving them considerable power over your finances, health and property.

Unfortunately, there can be times when this person you trusted can abuse this position and begin to make decisions that benefit them and not you. If you or your family members suspect abuse has been detected using power of attorney, action should be taken immediately to ensure decisions can be reversed or property can be recovered.

What is a spendthrift trust and how can it help me?

A previous post talked about a type of trust called a living trust. A living trust is a convenient vehicle for New Jersey residents who have wealth to hand that money down to the next generation. Oftentimes, the living trust in the long term can save a family the costs of probate and may have tax benefits as well.

One type of living trust is something called a spendthrift trust, although spendthrifts trust can also be created through a person's will. While it will generally give a trustee the same leeway to distribute wealth to one's children or other beneficiaries, it will also include certain provisions that may make it harder for a child to get access to the trust funds at will.

Overview of living trusts

Many people in New Jersey have probably heard of a living trust. While many people who promote them as valuable estate planning documents for good reasons, there are also a handful who may not accurately or completely inform residents of the benefits and costs of living trusts.

A living trust, as the name implies, is a trust document in which the settlors, or owners of the trust, are still alive. They place their money in the trust, which is basically an independent account subject to detailed rules about how it gets maintained and distributed. Generally, the owners name themselves as trustees, at least until they die and their children or other heirs take over.

No matter the cause, we can help navigate probate litigation

New Jersey residents who are sitting down to plan their estates generally do not want, or expect, a court fight to erupt over their will, or trust for that matter, after their deaths. Preventing intra-family conflict or other legal problems after one's death is precisely the reason many people engage in estate planning in the first place.

Unfortunately, though sometimes New Jersey probate litigation is hard to avoid.

Putting the correct value on a family business

One of the most important jobs the executor of a will has is to place values on the different assets of the estate. In many cases, this is relatively straightforward. For instance, with respect to a bank account or other liquid asset, it may just be a matter of figuring out the account's balance at the time of death. In other cases, such as in the case of a car, the process may be a little harder, but there will usually be other similar vehicles one can compare the car to to guess the vehicle's value.

Such is not the case with respect to a small business. While some comparison is possible, every business is unique and, without a set stock price or a sale of the business, it can be hard to determine how much a decedent's share in their business is worth.

Planning for long-term care for your aging parents

At some point in your life, a parent or loved one may become incapable of performing everyday tasks.

For instance, your father may develop Parkinson’s disease, which can leave him shaky on his feet. He may no longer be able to take out the trash, or carry a load of clothes to the laundry room.

What can I do about end-of-life decisions?

As this blog has mentioned, it is very important for New Jersey residents to implement a legal plan so that their assets get passed down to the next generation as they wished following their deaths. However, creating a will or trust is not the only critical step in the estate planning process.

A resident of Kearny or the other northern communities around Newark also needs to deal with the fact that they are likely going to need help making end-of-life decisions. After all, as one gets older, and sicker, it becomes more and more likely that he or she will not be able to communicate personally with his or her medical professionals.

Overview of the grounds for challenging a will or trust

In many cases, it is in a New Jersey resident's best interest to make a will as part of her estate plan. One of the biggest risks in doing so, however, is that a will must go through the probate process and, during that process, can get challenged in court.

It should be noted that other estate planning documents, like trusts, can also have their validity challenged by an angry family member via what can still appropriately be classified as probate litigation, as these sorts of claims work in the same way even when the document in question does not technically go through probate.

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