Estate Planning & Litigation

NJ Estate Litigation Attorneys

After someone dies, many issues may arise regarding their estate and any existing estate plan—or lack thereof. These issues are often brought to the Chancery Division of the Superior Court. If litigation is necessary it will be processed by the Surrogate Courts in New Jersey, and they will oversee the settlement of the estate. Probate uncertainties or disputes can take a significant amount of time, can involve sensitive allegations, and can be costly. However, if you are a potential heir or a beneficiary of a will and you believe you have been unfairly treated, it may be worth it to bring a claim before the court. An experienced estate litigation attorney at Cozzi & Cozzi Counsellors at Law can evaluate your situation and advise of your options, legal rights, and the possibility of having a viable probate claim.

In addition, the disputes regarding someone’s property and their affairs may begin well before their death. While such legal matters may be necessary, they can be complex, emotional, and can put a huge strain and stress on the family. It is imperative to have a skilled estate litigation lawyer helping you and providing valuable advice throughout every stage of your estate-related case, so please do not hesitate to call our office to discuss your situation today 201-450-1505.

Consequences of Dying without a Will

When an individual dies without a will in New Jersey, their property and estate will be administered in accordance with New Jersey “intestate succession” laws. While the name of this law seems intimidating, it simply dictates who will receive property in a probate case where there is no will. Heirs to an estate can vary depending on the familial situation of the deceased person, including whether they had the following who are survived them:

  • Spouse;
  • Children with that spouse;
  • Children from another relationship;
  • Parents;
  • Siblings.

In many cases, heirs may be entitled to certain property though the heir cannot be identified or located. There may also be other complications if there was mistreatment of the deceased person by certain heirs, if there was an abandonment of the relationship, and other specific circumstances. Intestate laws can be complex and, if you believe you are a rightful heir to some of the property in an intestate case, you should seek help from a qualified estate attorney as soon as possible.

Contesting a Will

Careful and comprehensive estate planning can help to ensure that after a person passes away, their wishes for their property and their estate will be properly carried out. However, no matter how thoroughly someone plans for after their death, questions may arise regarding the validity of the will. If certain provisions seem suspicious, if an unlikely individual is a primary beneficiary, or if expected beneficiaries are left out, there may be concerns whether the will should be enforced. In order to challenge the validity of a will, you must contest the will before the court. Common reasons cited in will contests include:

  • The testator (person who made the will) did not follow all formalities for a legal will under NJ law;
  • The testator lacked the mental capacity to understand the implication of the provisions of their will;
  • The testator did not have a clear understanding of the nature of their property or who would be appropriate beneficiaries;
  • Another person exercised undue influence, coercion, or duress to persuade the testator to make a new will or make significant changes to an existing will;
  • The testator was induced to sign the will through fraud.

If you believe you have lost part or all of your rightful inheritance due to any of the above issues, you should immediately discuss your case with an attorney who has experience handling will contests.

Guardianship, Conservatorship and Declaration of Incompetence

If a loved one is alive but no longer has the capacity to make decisions, handle their affairs, or take care of themselves, it may be appropriate to seek a guardianship and/or a conservatorship from the courts. NJ Courts can appoint a guardian to make decisions regarding the care of the person and can appoint a conservator to oversee financial decision for the person. Actions for guardianship or conservatorship can be sensitive and difficult, however, as you must seek a declaration of incompetence for your loved one. This can be especially difficult if your loved one or another family member tries to oppose the action. Having an attorney advising you and representing you can help this often painful process go as smoothly as possible so your loved one has the help they need.

Consult with an Experienced Estate Litigation Attorney in New Jersey
At the office of Cozzi & Cozzi Counsellors at Law, we understand how sensitive and emotional many estate disputes can be, but also how important bringing such litigation before that court is in certain situations. We can help you weigh your options and will provide personalized support and representation throughout your estate litigation case. For a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, call our office today at 201-939-3381, help is also available 24/7 at 201-450-1505.