Articles Posted in Hoboken Estate Planning & Wills


A very large nationwide personal injury firm has a billboard that boasts in very large letters that “Size Matters.” On the flip side, the thousands upon thousands of extremely satisfied clients of solo and small firm attorneys have recognized something else, which is that, when it comes to legal representation in your divorce or estate planning matter, small may actually be a significant benefit, not a drawback. As you consider retaining someone regarding your divorce or estate plan, consider the substantial benefits that a diligent Hoboken solo or small firm attorney can provide.

All good attorneys, regardless of firm size, want their clients to be successful and to leave the relationship feeling fully satisfied and confident that they received quality legal representation.

Sadly, this outcome does not always come to fruition, as an unusual news story from February 2021 illustrates. An unhappy legal client in England left a negative comment on a review website in which he called his London law firm “another scam” and a “waste of money.” That review got the client hauled into court, where a judge found him guilty of defamation and awarded damages to the law firm.

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The 1967 Paul Newman film Cool Hand Luke gave birth to a now-common catchphrase. At one point, a character tells Newman’s Luke that “what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” Failures to communicate and miscommunications are dangerous in many areas, and they can be especially so in estate planning. Given the profoundly important job your estate planning documents have, it’s clear why having an estate plan that leaves nothing to chance is so important. Instead of leaving yourself and your family vulnerable to miscommunications, mistakes, and misunderstandings, take the time and effort to retain a knowledgeable Hoboken estate planning attorney and ensure that all of your wishes and goals are put down clearly and unmistakably in black and white.

The estate litigation that sprang up around a northwestern New Jersey man’s will recently is an example of what can happen when uncertainty or a lack of clarity strikes. The man, C.H., was survived only by a lone brother. He and his late wife, to whom he had been married for more than 50 years, had no children. The couple was, however, very close to the wife’s brother and his three children.

The wife, who died two years before the husband, did not create an estate plan of any kind. When you don’t create an estate plan, your assets are distributed according to a set of rules established by state law (called the “intestate process”). If you die with no children but leave a surviving spouse, as this woman did, your spouse gets 100% of your assets. That meant that the beloved nieces and nephew didn’t receive anything directly from their aunt’s wealth.

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According to the American Psychological Association, nearly half of all U.S. marriages will end in divorce. For a whole lot of folks, divorce is (or is going to be) a reality in their lives. For some, a divorce may make them feel that “my life is over.” Many people, though, find as much or more happiness, fulfillment, and, yes, love after a divorce as before. Of course, part of getting to those “better days ahead” is closing the current chapter of your life. When it comes time to get that healthy closure and to ensure that the divorce judgment you receive is a fair one, call upon an experienced Hoboken divorce attorney to help you through this process.

Obviously, no one enters a marriage with eager anticipation of a subsequent divorce. Divorce can, however, be a positive in certain ways. A late 2020 article from published comments from a dozen different men who had gone through divorce. One of the men, a Connecticut father of teens, stated that “divorce was the best thing to happen to my relationship with my kids. … [My] relationship with my kids is the best it’s ever been.”

Divorce may also free you to explore interests or preferences that you had placed on the “back burner” because of your spouse. Maybe you’d long desired a career change. Perhaps you’d always wanted to move somewhere warmer. Possibly it was something as simple as taking up a new hobby. After a divorce, those decisions are things you can make on a “me” basis instead of a “we” basis.

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There are lots of benefits you can receive from a well-crafted estate plan. Your will, trust or trusts can give you the peace of mind of knowing that your wishes and preferences are in “black and white” in valid legal document. Such legal documents can help you to provide for friends or relatives who are outside your immediate family… or perhaps benefit a cherished charity. You can also, in some situations, help to avoid certain taxes. To do that, though, you should make sure you’re working with the right legal team. Your skilled Hoboken estate planning attorney can help you get this kind of plan set up cor

rectly, and setting it up right is critical because, if your plan is set up incorrectly, it can have devastating tax consequences.

That was the case for the estate of M.V.R. New Jersey is one of just a few states that have an inheritance tax. As with many forms of what’s often called “death taxes,” there are ways of potentially reducing your tax liability exposure through estate planning techniques. One common method to address the inheritance tax in New Jersey is for married couples to establish two trusts during their lifetime. When the first spouse dies, his/her trust takes ownership of his/her half of the marital home, and the trust pays a tax based on the home’s value at that time. The same thing happens upon the second spouse’s death, with the second spouse’s trust taking ownership of that half of the home and paying the associated taxes.

M.V.R. and her husband, W.V.R., had an estate plan that did something a bit different. Their plan established a single irrevocable trust and the couple transferred ownership of their home into that trust during their lifetime.

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When it comes to wills and living trusts, you may hear a lot of discussion about avoiding probate. The degree of importance of avoiding probate will vary from person to person and will depend on exactly what assets you possess. There are certain groups of people for whom avoiding probate is especially important. If you’re someone who owns property in multiple states, you very possibly are one of those people. That means that the right type of estate planning can potentially save your loved ones a great deal of time and money, so you should make sure to contact an experienced Hoboken estate planning attorney about your situation.

A while ago, the advice column relayed the story of a child whose father had died without a will. When you die with no will in New Jersey, that’s called “dying intestate” and it means your assets are distributed under the terms of New Jersey’s intestate distribution law.

When that distribution was finished, the child had received the father’s timeshare. The piece did not state where the timeshare was located but, given that only about 1% of all timeshares are located here in the Garden State, it is certainly possible that it was somewhere outside New Jersey, like Florida or South Carolina.

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According to the National Center for State Courts, the frequency of people proceeding in legal matters without an attorney is increasing. Handling a legal matter without an attorney — any legal matter — is filled with potential risks and pitfalls. Some people may think that, because creating a will or a trust often involves many straight-forward factual matters and relatively few murky, complex concepts of the law, that representation by a skilled attorney isn’t really needed. That kind of thinking is often a serious mistake. Going forward without an experienced Hoboken estate planning attorney may seem frugal but, when problems arise later, you’ll be glad you had representation provided by a knowledgeable legal professional.

Take, as an example, the estate of V.O. V.O. was a Middlesex County woman who died in March 2019 at age 83. Three years earlier, V.O. made the wise decision to retain an attorney and execute a will. The will said that, after the payment of certain specific gifts, her two sons, D.Y. and M.Y., should receive the rest of her assets on a 50-50 basis. One of those specific gifts went a third son, J.Y., to whom the mother left exactly $1,000.

D.Y., whom the mother named as the executor of her will, submitted the will to be probated. J.Y. filed something called a “caveat,” which is the legal document you must file to contest a will. J.Y.’s argument was that his mother was under the “undue influence” of D.Y. when she signed the 2016 will.

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