Though the death of a loved one often brings family members close in their grief, emotions can run high in the aftermath of a loss. In some cases, squabbles about the will or other matters can become so contentious that they result in estate litigation. If this is the case, you need strong, compassionate legal representation. In New Jersey, the attorneys of Bozanian McGregor LLC are well-positioned to provide it.

Contact us now so our experienced attorneys can step in to take over your logistical problems to make sure your relative’s last wishes are carried out while you get your bearings. Be assured that whichever side of estate litigation you’re on, we are on your side, ready to fight vigorously to obtain the just results you deserve.

Our accomplished legal team is here to help by advocating for you both in and out of the courtroom. Schedule a consultation to discuss your best options. You can rely on our commitment and determination; we have an impressive record of positive outcomes.

Common Causes of Estate Litigation in New Jersey

Some estate disputes arise when the deceased dies intestate (without a will), in which case the estate will be distributed according to New Jersey laws of intestate succession. These laws are based entirely on bloodlines, so genealogical connections take precedence over personal closeness and this may be disturbing to many family members.

Even when the decedent’s will is well-constructed, beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries may question terms they feel are unfair. Whether you are questioning the structure of your loved one’s will or defending its appropriateness, our lawyers will leverage our knowledge and skills to assist you.

Challenges to the Validity of a Will may come in several forms:

  • Claims that the will’s signing was not witnessed by eligible witnesses
  • The will signed was an online document with inaccuracies or other flaws
  • More than one will has been discovered and it is unclear which one is valid
  • The will has excluded a normally legitimate heir

In any case, challenges to a will can lead to litigation that requires the skilled strategic approach of our talented estate litigation attorneys.

Challenges Related to Lack of Testamentary Capacity

New Jersey law requires that the person making the will have the required mental capacity to understand the step being taken and what it entailed. An interested party may challenge the will by claiming that the decedent was not competent, due to mental incapacity (e.g. dementia) or substance impairment (e.g. over-medication), at the time of the signing and could not understand what they were doing. In such situations, we will make sure that medical experts weigh in to determine whether the decedent was competent or incompetent at the time of signing.

Claims of Undue Influence

Another challenge involves claims that another party exerted undue influence on the person creating the will. Even if a will appears to be legally valid in New Jersey, the court may refuse to enforce it if it can be proven that another person exerted undue influence on the testator. 

If a claim is made by an interested party that a beneficiary named in the will to receive significant assets (particularly if the will was recently altered) and that person had occasion to possibly coax, coerce or even threaten the descendent, the circumstances must be fully investigated. Claims of undue influence and mental incapacity often go hand in hand. Frequently the person suspected of unduly influences the testator is the closest caregiver.

Challenges of the Executor

Because the executor plays a significant role in the distribution of assets, an heir or other beneficiary may accuse that individual of mismanagement that may lead to litigation, claiming that the executor:

  • Favored certain beneficiaries
  • Failed to fulfill fiduciary duties
  • Misappropriated estate assets
  • Disregarded an order of the probate court
  • Failed to provide an accurate accounting of estate assets
  • Breached fiduciary duty by working in their own best interests instead of the best interests of the beneficiaries

Such claims are serious and may lead to litigation and court invention, penalties, and replacement of the executor.

Challenges of a Trustee

Trustees, like executors, are fiduciaries, legally responsible to working in the best interests of the beneficiary, so it is also possible for a trustee of to be accused of misappropriating trust funds, denying the beneficiary their proper allocations, or making unwise investments. It is also possible that a claim will be made that the trust was created improperly worded so that the intentions of the grantor are ambiguous or contradictory. This claim, too, may lead to litigation in order to have the courts modify the trust.

When It Is Necessary To Establish a Guardianship in New Jersey

Whether you are seeking to be appointed as a guardian for an elderly person who is in need of guidance in managing their everyday activities and affairs, or you yourself need protection against improper guardianship actions taken by family members, government agencies, or other interested parties, Bozanian McGregor will come to your rescue.

Legal guardianship is designed to assist an incapacitated person who is unable to make sound decisions about financial matters, meet their basic needs, and plan their healthcare. Guardianship, should, therefore, always be beneficial, not overly controlling or punitive. Our estate litigation attorneys are dedicated to making sure you are provided with the support you need, whichever side of the guardianship discussion you are on, and that the relationship between guardian and ward is positive and productive.

Contact Our Experienced New Jersey Estate Litigation Attorneys Today

No one wants to have the heartache of a death in the family followed by a period of turmoil and contention. If you are facing strife during this already challenging period, contact the first-rate law team at Bozanian McGregor for strong, sensitive legal counsel. We will fight tirelessly for your right to a fair resolution and peace of mind.