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Should A Testator Explain Why She Disinherited A Child?

October 29, 2012

Authors

Luke Lantta

Should A Testator Explain Why She Disinherited A Child?

October 29, 2012

by: Luke Lantta

Hell hath no fury like a disinherited child.  Or, if not fury, then at least an appetite for litigation.

Many estate planners recommend against total disinheritance and instead couple a token distribution with an in terrorem clause.  That way the disinherited child stands to lose something if he or she pursues estate litigation.  Of course, that doesn’t always work.  Especially if the risk is greatly outweighed by the potential reward – say giving up a sure $5,000 for a possible $1 million.

So, what else can a testator do to ensure that his or her intent to disinherit is upheld if there is litigation?

In In the Matter of the Probate of the Alleged Will of Joan Pennella, a recent case out of New Jersey, we see the value placed by a court on the testator’s own explanation of why she disinherited two of her children.

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What Does It Take To Establish A Confidential Relationship In New Jersey

June 4, 2012

Authors

Luke Lantta

What Does It Take To Establish A Confidential Relationship In New Jersey

June 4, 2012

by: Luke Lantta

At the heart of many an undue influence case is the confidential relationship.  Under the law of many jurisdictions, it’s a game-changer – it can shift burdens and create presumptions.  But, proving a confidential relationship is often very fact intensive.

In Mangarelli v. Snyder, a New Jersey appellate court gives us a short, sweet lesson on facts sufficient to establish a confidential relationship under New Jersey law.

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New Jersey Testators Do Not Need To Read A Will Before Signing It

May 29, 2012

Authors

Luke Lantta

New Jersey Testators Do Not Need To Read A Will Before Signing It

May 29, 2012

by: Luke Lantta

As baby boomers enter their 60s, eye disease and vision impairment are likely to become more prevalent in the population.  How might that affect estate planning and will contests?  Are there concerns if a testator cannot read the will he or she is about to execute?

We’ve previously looked at a case where a testator did not need to know the ‘mechanics’ of a will for it to be valid.  Now, we turn to New Jersey, where an appellate court has concluded that a will is not invalid simply because the testator did not read the document before signing it.

The facts of In the Matter of the Estate of Betsy A. Schnitzer are worth a read.  Likewise, the court spends a good deal of time discussing how undue influence presumptions work in New Jersey, which is particularly helpful for New Jersey practitioners.  But, we want

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