Lewis J. Pepperman

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The New Jersey State Foreclosure Mediation Program has become a helpful tool for many homeowners facing foreclosure.   It has allowed homeowners the benefit of skilled attorneys and housing counselors to help them navigate the maze of rules and regulations which meant the difference between securing a modification on a mortgage in default and losing their home.   Both legal counsel and the housing counselors were available free of charge as they were paid through…
My experience is that the fees of mediators are generally paid without any problem.  On those occasions when they are not paid, what process does a mediator have to follow?  Mediators are not always attorneys, but in many cases they are.  The question is whether a mediator who is an attorney must serve the parties to the mediation with what is commonly known as a “fee arbitration letter” before the mediator can file a lawsuit…
The Internet has become a major part of almost everything we do.   We often warn our friends, family and clients to be careful about what they put up on “the Net” as what is put there will be visible to “the world” and may be there for a long time, if not forever. What are the rules that have to be followed when evidence is gathered from the Web?  It is generally thought to…
In probate court actions, the award of attorney fees to a contestant of a last will & testament, is within the discretion of the Court. Except in a “weak or meretricious” case, Courts will generally allow counsel fees to both sides.   However, when a case involves non-probate assets, such as life insurance policies and pension proceeds, attorneys fees will not be paid out of these assets as they pass by operation of contract…
In a report published for its 2009 – 2010 term, the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Complementary Dispute Resolution came up with certain recommendations concerning changes in the New Jersey Civil Presumptive Mediation Program. The New Jersey Supreme Court adopted the Committee’s recommendations and has amended Rules 1:40-6(b), 1:40-12(b)(2) and Rules Appendix XXVI. These amendments will take effect on September 1, 2011. The purpose of these Rule amendments are to streamline and improve certain…
In the Matter of the Estate of BELVA PLAIN, Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Probate Part, Essex County, Docket No. ESX-CP-0048-2011, decided on July 22, 2011, the question was raised as to whether a child of a decedent was precluded from challenging the Last Will and Testament of his mother by his execution of a settlement agreement eighteen years before her death.  In that settlement agreement, the son covenanted not to challenge his…
In a recent case decided by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey on June 17, 2011 (In The Matter of the Estate of Blanche T. Riordan, Deceased, Docket  No. A-4123-09T4; Docket No. A-4464-09T4; Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division), the Trial Court concluded that the decedent had testamentary capacity when she executed her will and that the will was not the product of undue influence.    The Plaintiffs argued that…
In the Matter of the Estate of Lillian L. Fischer, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey (Docket No. A-0091-10T2) determined that a failure to disclose information in a mediation did not require a settlement to be overturned. This case was recently decided on June 14, 2011.    In the Fischer case, the parties entered into a settlement of a case as a result of a court sponsored mediation. Sometime thereafter, a…
What happens when an individual hires an attorney to engage in estate planning but never signs a will?  Will the “probable intent” of that individual be carried out or will it be ignored because the will was never signed?  The simple answer is that a failure to sign a will can have disastrous results. On December 29, 2010, in the case of “In The Matter Of The Trusts To Be Established In The Matter Of…
Lawsuits over the validity of a Last Will and Testament have become a common form of litigation around the country, as well as in the State of New Jersey.  Preparing an estate plan is something that is necessary and something that everyone should take care of while they are in an appropriate physical and mental state.   However, there are no rules as to when estate planning must be done.   Some individuals plan their estates well…