New Jersey Will Litigation

Trust and Estate Planning Administration

Whether you need assistance for a New Jersey probate litigation or suspect an executor is abusing his/her power, Parsons & Nardelli, Attorneys at Law, is one of the foremost resources for skilled probate litigation representation.  Our New Jersey attorneys have handled hundreds of cases for clients.  We provide the same professional care large law firms offer with the personal attention only smaller practices can provide.

Our probate experience

Parsons & Nardelli in Red Bank works with fiduciaries, beneficiaries, individuals, and estate creditors in probate litigation cases.  We have experience advocating for the rights of our clients in matters of:

  • Will contests
  • Testamentary challenges
  • Trust actions
  • Trust contests
  • Trust reformation
  • Trust and will construction
  • Accounting actions
  • Fiduciary misconduct
  • Fiduciary removal
  • Surcharge actions
  • Conservatorships and guardianships
  • Probate and tax appeals
  • Inheritance disputes
  • Contested transfers
  • Creditor claims
  • Valuation and distribution of assets
  • Estate administration
  • Intestacy issues

We also work with clients on interpretation issues where the wording of a will or trust is unclear.

The types of cases we handle

Forgery/fraud

In some cases a person will seek to recover the assets of an estate with a will that was created through forgery.  When this occurs, the interests of the true beneficiaries of a deceased person are threatened.  We fight to defeat forged wills and ensure that the true beneficiaries’ interests are protected.

We recently represented the niece and nephews of a woman who passed away.  Their cousin had presented a will to the surrogate’s court that would have disinherited them from their aunt’s estate.  We procured a pre-eminent handwriting expert, John Paul Osborn of Union, New Jersey, who testified at trial that the will was obviously the product of forgery.  As a result, we achieved a very successful conclusion for our clients.

Lack of testamentary capacity

There are times when a person simply lacks the ability to execute a will due to advanced age, illness, or mental incapacity.  In appropriate cases, we have challenged the legal capacity of an individual to make a will which adversely affected our clients.  Medical records and the testimony of health care providers, friends, and family members are critical in establishing whether a person lacked the necessary legal capacity to make a will.  As probate lawyers in New Jersey, we are experienced in investigating and prosecuting these types of claim.

Undue influence

A will may be set aside if it is the product of undue influence.  In other words, a will may be rendered void if someone with a close relationship to the person making the will (the testator) uses that relationship to persuade the testator to include provisions which he or she would not have done independently.

For example, in a case recently handled by our firm a widow executed a will that benefited her recent live-in boyfriend and had the effect of excluding her two adult children.  We challenged the will on behalf of those children and demonstrated using medical records, that while not lacking the legal capacity to make a will, the widow’s mental state made her prone to undue influence.  Through the testimony of those who knew her, we established that the widow would never have executed such a will in the absence of undue influence applied by the boyfriend.  As a result, we were able to protect the children’s interest in their mother’s estate.

Another recurring example involves disputes between siblings or other family members over the assets of a deceased relative.  Typically, the testator will have demonstrated an inclination over many years to treat his or her heirs equally, only to have that plan disrupted by a will executed in the last years of his or her life.  In many cases the new will benefits the person who has control over the testator at the time it is executed.  Our firm has a great deal of experience in investigating circumstances such as this and fighting to set aside those wills which were produced by undue influence.

In two recent cases where lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence were alleged, we obtained a forensic psychiatrist to report and be available to testify on these issues.

Probable intent

Though not as common as cases involving undue influence, there are instances where the testator’s clearly expressed intentions cannot be fulfilled by a strict reading of the will.  The court is permitted to look beyond a strict reading of the will and enforce the testator’s probable intent in these circumstances.

Our firm was called upon to represent the in-laws of a woman who died several years ago.  The woman had a close and loving relationship over the course of 40 years with these in-laws, who were the siblings of her late husband, and their spouses.  She demonstrated her affection by making a specific provision for them in her will.

The will left the remainder of her estate to the only other relative she had any relationship with—her sister.  But the sister died before she did, leaving no named beneficiary with respect to the remainder of the woman’s estate.

Distant relatives of the woman were located by a genealogical service and sued to establish their rights to receive the remainder of the woman’s estate.  Our firm successfully argued that although this may be the result required by a strict reading of the will, it was not what the woman would have intended.  As a result of our application of the Doctrine of Probable Intent, the interests of the woman’s beloved in-laws were protected.

Abuse of power with Power of Attorney

In many instances, an elderly person in declining health may execute a Power of Attorney granting authority to someone else, typically a close friend or relatives, to act on his or her behalf.  The person who signs the Power of Attorney is called the principal; the person to whom the power is granted is the agent.

The agent is required to act in the best interest of the principal.  He or she is not entitled to use the money or assets of the principal for their own benefit.  An agent who converts the assets of the principal for their own benefit, or that of their family, has abused their authority as Power of Attorney and can be compelled to return to the misappropriated assets to the principal, or the principal’s estate.

Our firm has vast experience with claims involving Power of Attorney abuse.  We have fought to have large transfers, such as the purchase of automobiles and college tuition payments for an agent’s children, returned to the estate of a principal.

Contact our legal team in Red Bank today

Contact a skilled NJ lawyer at Parsons & Nardelli for a free initial consultation call (732) 842-6400 or toll free (888) 309-5589, or complete our contact form. Located in Red Bank, NJ, we work with clients throughout Monmouth, Ocean, and Middlesex Counties.

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