Probate & Estate Planning

Sometimes our clients misplace their original wills. They often worry whether that will cause a problem. Our usual answer: probably not — but it’s easy to fix. Let’s just redo your will, even if we don’t make any changes. Sometimes, though, the problem comes up after a death. Everyone “knows” where the original will is. It’s right here — though this looks like a photocopy. Omigosh — it IS a photocopy! Does that mean the…
The appointment of a fiduciary is essential for the administration of a decedent’s estate.  Assets that were owned solely in a decedent’s name at death are not accessible unless the Court appoints a duly authorized representative.  Such representative can be an administrator if the person dies intestate or an executor if there is a Last Will and Testament. Both executors and administrators have duties and responsibilities.  Their primary job is to identify, protect and…
In re Estate of Cenaffra, No. A-5731-17T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. Sept. 9, 2020) Defendant was the executrix under the decedent’s last will and had also been the decedent’s agent under a power of attorney.  The trial court granted plaintiff’s request to require defendant to provide an accounting for both roles.  At trial, defendant invoked her Fifth Amendment right and declined to testify.  The trial court ultimately granted judgment against defendant for $200,000 in damages. …
A man proposed to his fiancé with a 4-carat princess cut $265,000 Harry Winston diamond engagement ring.  Before the two could wed, the man died and his estate sued to recover the ring.  Following a four-day trial the judge found that the gift, although an engagement ring, was unconditional, even though such rings are usually conditional.  According to the court, it was clear that man intended for his fiancé to keep the ring irrespective of…
Shedlock v. Director, Div. of Taxation, No. A-5634-18T1, 2020 WL 5032512 (N.J. Super. App. Div. Aug. 26, 2020). In July 2013 and at the age of 87, Anthony Calleo (the “decedent”) deeded his two-family home (the “property”) to his nieces, Valerie Shedlock and Judith Solan, for less than $100.  The deed included no specific provision giving the decedent any continued right, title, interest, control, or power over the property.  That same day, the decedent executed…
Royal Law Firm PLLC January 14, 2021 , 10:55 am , A Will versus a Trust- What’s the Difference A will versus a trust: What’s the difference?    Let’s start with the basics. If you pass away without a Will or a Trust, there is a process under state inheritance laws that details what happens to a person’s estate assets when that person dies without a will or trust. Intestate succession refers to…
Well, here we go again. That estimated $300 Million value for the size of the estate was pared down by the IRS to “only” $162 Million. That’s still way more than the $82 Million trustee Comerica Bank presented when it submitted their assessment. As we predicted in our last blog on this story, Comerica bank is now headed for court to defend its position. Whatever the final amount turns out to be, a lot of…