Photo of Lewis J. Pepperman

Lewis J. Pepperman is a Shareholder and Chair of Stark & Stark’s Business Group practices. He has over forty years of experience as a civil trial attorney in the Federal and State Courts, concentrating in the areas of commercial, corporate and probate trial work. He is an experienced Mediator, Arbitrator, Discovery Master and Receiver. Several cases litigated by Mr. Pepperman have resulted in reported and published decisions, in some instances changing the state of the law in New Jersey.

The New Jersey State Foreclosure Mediation Program has become a helpful tool for many homeowners facing foreclosure. It has allowed homeowners the benefit of skilled attorneys and housing counselors to help them navigate the maze of rules and regulations which meant the difference between securing a modification on a mortgage in default and losing their home.
Continue Reading Changes in the State Court Foreclosure Mediation Program in New Jersey

In probate actions, the award of counsel fees to a proponent or contestant of a will is within the discretion of the Court. Except in a “weak or meretricious” case, Courts will generally allow counsel fees to both sides. However, when a case involves non-probate assets, such as life insurance and pension proceeds, attorneys fees will not be paid out of these assets as they pass by operation of contract and property law and are outside of the decedent’s estate.
Continue Reading Attorney Fees in Probate Court Actions Are Not Permitted on Proceeds on Life Insurance Policies or Pension

In a report published for its 2009 – 2010 term, the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Complementary Dispute Resolution came up with certain recommendations concerning changes in the New Jersey Civil Presumptive Mediation Program. The New Jersey Supreme Court adopted the Committee’s recommendations and has amended Rules 1:40-6(b), 1:40-12(b)(2) and Rules Appendix XXVI. These amendments will take effect on September 1, 2011. The purpose of these Rule amendments are to streamline and improve certain areas of the mediation program and mediation process.
Continue Reading Changes Made to Rules for New Jersey Civil Presumptive Mediation Program

In the Matter of the Estate of BELVA PLAIN, Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Probate Part, Essex County, Docket No. ESX-CP-0048-2011, decided on July 22, 2011, the question was raised as to whether a child of a decedent was precluded from challenging the Last Will and Testament of his mother by his execution of a settlement agreement eighteen years before her death. In that settlement agreement, the son covenanted not to challenge his mother’s documents after her death.
Continue Reading Future Rights Under a Will May Be Given Away by Contract

In a recent case decided by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey on June 17, 2011 (In The Matter of the Estate of Blanche T. Riordan, Deceased, Docket No. A-4123-09T4; Docket No. A-4464-09T4; Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division), the Trial Court concluded that the decedent had testamentary capacity when she executed her will and that the will was not the product of undue influence.
Continue Reading Will A Court Award Counsel Fees to a Plaintiff That Was Unable to Prove Lack of Testamentary Capacity or Undue Influence?

In the Matter of the Estate of Lillian L. Fischer, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey (Docket No. A-0091-10T2) determined that a failure to disclose information in a mediation did not require a settlement to be overturned. This case was recently decided on June 14, 2011. In the Fischer case, the parties entered into a settlement of a case as a result of a court sponsored mediation. Sometime thereafter, a disagreement arose concerning the disposition of certain assets that had not been disclosed during the mediation.
Continue Reading Is There a Penalty for Failing to Provide Full Disclosure at a Mediation?

What happens when an individual hires an attorney to engage in estate planning but never signs a will? Will the “probable intent” of that individual be carried out or will it be ignored because the will was never signed? The simple answer is that a failure to sign a will can have disastrous results.
Continue Reading Courts Will Not Create a Will or Trust Where None Exists

Lawsuits over the validity of a Last Will and Testament have become a common form of litigation around the country, as well as in the State of New Jersey. Preparing an estate plan is something that is necessary and something that everyone should take care of while they are in an appropriate physical and mental state. However, there are no rules as to when estate planning must be done. Some individuals plan their estates well in advance. Others wait until the last minute. Some make sure that they frequently update their estate plans. Others ignore what has to be done. The result of late planning is often litigation.
Continue Reading Contesting a Will – State Court or Federal Court