The probate lawyers of the Law Office of Bart J. Klein serve individuals and families facing estate disputes. Disagreements about an ill or deceased loved one's intentions or last will and testament — or about the administration of his or her estate — can be particularly emotional. We work closely with our clients to understand their concerns and resolve disputes amicably, if possible, and through litigation, if necessary. To determine your best course of action, consultation with New Jersey estate and probate lawyers is advisable.
When a person dies, all of their assets, often referred to as their “estate,” may be distributed or administered pursuant to various documents the person has signed, like wills, codicils, trust agreements and beneficiary designations for accounts at banks or other financial institutions. Or, if a person has no will, their estate may be distributed pursuant to the law of intestacy, which is determined by state law. Disputes also arise in connection with powers of attorney, living wills and health care directives. The aforementioned disputes may arise before or after the death of the signatory, depending on the circumstances. When a dispute arises in connection with the administration of an estate or a trust agreement, or the implementation of a power of attorney, living will or health care directive, the dispute may require court intervention if it cannot be resolved by the parties to the dispute.
Disputes regarding the assets of an estate or a trust often involve the beneficiaries and/or fiduciaries of the estate or trust. Beneficiaries are often relatives or friends of a deceased person, but can also include corporate entities, like charities. Fiduciaries are the people or entities responsible for managing and distributing estate and trust assets, like executors and trustees. They too are often relatives or friends of a deceased person, but may also include corporate entities, like banks.
Some common examples of estate litigation matters are:
In a will contest, a party with an interest in the estate of a decedent challenges the validity of a will submitted to probate.
When a person is appointed as a trustee, executor or administrator that person is empowered with control over certain specified assets. That person is also considered to be a “fiduciary”, who is charged with the responsibility of properly maintaining and managing the assets under their control and of following the terms of the will, codicil, trust agreement or statute that appointed them as a fiduciary. When a fiduciary fails to follow through on his or her obligations in some way, or there is a dispute as to what the specific obligations of that fiduciary are, a person with an interest in the assets under the fiduciary’s control may bring an action against him. Examples of such actions are:
While many disputes over estates and trusts are best resolved short of litigation, some disputes require court involvement pursuant to state law, and others are too acrimonious to be resolved. Particularly because disputes over wills, codicils, trust agreements, powers of attorney, living wills and health care directives typically involve the death or impending death of a loved one, strong emotions can prevent the settlement of matters before litigation. No matter the situation, in order to chart a course forward and address a conflict, we consult closely with our clients to understand their concerns and motivations.
If you are facing an estate dispute in New Jersey and would like to consult with an attorney, we welcome you to contact the probate lawyers of the Law Office of Bart J. Klein at (973) 763-6060, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by completing our online contact form.
© 2020 Law Office of Bart J. Klein