In general, a codicil to a Will is an amendment to a last will and testament. A codicil can amend a Will in numerous different ways. For instance, it can change the amount of any bequests left under a Will and who will receive said bequests. It can also change who is to serve as the executor of the estate, or other issues related to the administration of the estate. Finally, its purpose may be to add a personal property distribution list. In essence, a codicil to a Will can amend virtually all of the terms of a last will and testament. Often, a person will simply seek to sign a new last will and testament in lieu of a codicil, however, there is nothing improper about utilizing a codicil to effectuate an amendment to their estate plans.

Continue Reading Challenging a Codicil to a Will

Last Will & TestamentAs they say, the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. At some point we will all mourn the loss of a loved one. Once the mourning is completed, questions may arise whether the decedent had a last will and testament under which you might be a beneficiary. If so, the question may then become when might you receive your inheritance. This question is frequently raised, however, the answer is not as simple as some might believe.

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After grieving the death of a loved one, the decedent’s heirs of the estate must go through the process of administering the will and distributing the decedent’s assets. In order to accomplish this process, an executor of the estate is typically appointed by the will or the heirs of the estate. Hopefully, the distribution of the estate goes smoothly, but at times, issues arise if the executor is either dishonest or fails to perform the duties required of an executor. The question then becomes, “What can be done in order to force the proper administration and distribution of the estate?”

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An action setting forth a claim of undue influence is among the most common methods of contesting a will; however, an action for undue influence can also be effective in challenging lifetime gifts. As a general matter, undue influence is defined as mental, moral, or physical exertion which has destroyed the free agency of a party by preventing that party from following the dictates of his own mind and will and accepting instead the domination and influence of another. A plaintiff claiming undue influence has the burden of demonstrating a confidential relationship between the donor and the donee.

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While most people who are appointed Powers of Attorney understand their general duty to act only within the best interests of the person for whom they are serving as a Power of Attorney, and to not undertake transactions which solely benefit themselves, most of them do not understand their duty to account which is required by statute. It is important that a Power of Attorney carefully account when utilizing a Power of Attorney to undertake financial transactions, as this issue could come back to bite them if they do not properly account.

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