Photo of Paul W. Norris

Mr. Norris is an expert Civil Trial Attorney as certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Mr. Norris is also a member of the firm’s Litigation practice.

In general, the party tasked with defending a decedent’s Will during a Will contest, which is typically the executor, is entitled to the reimbursement of counsel fees that they incur in defending the Will on behalf of the Estate. At times, however, a party who has filed an action to contest a Last Will and Testament may also be entitled to an award of counsel fees provided there was a reasonable and legitimate basis to contest the decedent’s Last Will and Testament. In a recent appellate division case, the court affirmed an award of counsel fees to the contestant of a decedent’s Will for these very reasons.

Continue Reading Counsel Fee Award When Contesting A Will

If you are the named executor of an Estate, there is the possibility that an action may be brought to challenge the validity of the Will which named you executor. Typically, this process begins with a verified complaint by an individual that seeks to contest the validity of the decedent’s Last Will and Testament submitted to the probate court. The statute of limitations for contesting a Will varies by state. For example, in New Jersey, it is merely four months for in-state residents and up to six months for out-of-state residents. Provided that a plaintiff (the person challenging the Will) has complied with the applicable state deadline by timely filing the Will contest, the executor should take several actions to prepare for defending against the Will contest.

Continue Reading Defending a Will Contest

In general, a party is only entitled to injunctive relief if they can demonstrate that the damages for which they seek redress are not compensable by an award of monetary damages, however, in a recent US District Court case, the US District Court decided that injunctive relief was called for to preserve monetary assets pending the resolution of a matter. Typically, it is rare to see estate litigation before a US District Court; however, the District Court correctly applied New Jersey law in finding that injunctive relief was appropriate.

Continue Reading Injunctive Relief to Prevent Monetary Damages in Estate Litigation

If you are a general contractor or subcontractor, you should know the New Jersey Prompt Payment Act. In general, the purpose of this Act is to encourage prompt payment to contractors for the materials and services they provide on a project by imposing potential sanctions, including counsel fees, should payments which are currently due not be timely and properly tendered. One of the provisions of this Act contains a fee-shifting provision whereby the contractor may be entitled to an award of all counsel fees incurred in seeking the payment it is due from a general contractor or subcontractor.
Continue Reading Counsel Fees Under the Prompt Payment Act

In previous blogs, I have discussed an award of counsel fees to a plaintiff who successfully contested a last will and testament. In a recent appellant division decision, the appellate court reviewed an award of counsel fees to a plaintiff who challenged a last will and testament, however, whose challenge was not successful.

Continue Reading Counsel Fees in Probate Litigation, Even if Unsuccessful

In a recent appellate division decision, the appellate court discussed the effect lien waivers might have on a subcontractor’s right to receive payment in full for the work it performed. In this matter, the plaintiff subcontractors had performed all of their obligations under the contract, however, they had also signed partial lien waivers for the defendant general contractor. The general contractor asserted that the execution of its lien waivers barred plaintiffs from receiving the balance which remained outstanding on their invoices pursuant to the contract.

Continue Reading Lien Waivers and Their Effect on Receiving Payment

In general, it is well known that commercial construction liens must be filed within 90 days of the last date that a contractor provided materials and/or services for a project. Although this time may appear simple at first to calculate, contractors can often make a mistake concerning the last date they provided materials and/or services for the purposes of filing a lien claim. Should a contractor make such an error, there is the possibility that their lien claim may be late due to a particular section of the construction lien statute which is often overlooked.

Continue Reading Timing of Lien Claim

It is not uncommon for drafters of Wills to include a “no-contest clause” in a decedent’s Last Will and Testament. The purpose of the “no-contest clause” is to provide for the disinheritance of an heir to the estate should they challenge the validity of the decedent’s Last Will and Testament. While a “no-contest clause” could ultimately have this effect, it can likewise be defeated during a challenge to a Will. Further, if the litigation is settled before trial, there would typically be an agreement between the parties that the “no-contest clause” would not apply.

Continue Reading No-Contest Clause in a Will

Suppose a party seeks to challenge a decedent’s last will and testament based upon claims of competency or the improper assertion of undue influence. In that case, this contestant may also seek to challenge the transfer of certain non-probate assets that could comprise either the majority or a substantial percentage of the decedent’s assets. The grounds for challenging such transfers may be identical to those pursued in a challenge to a last will and testament, however, may be subject to applicable statutes and different standards of proof that govern a challenge to a particular class of asset.

Continue Reading Challenging the Transfer of Non-Probate Assets

During a Will contest, there are several different ways that a party seeking to challenge the validity of a Will may attack the document. One of the most common ways is to challenge the decedent’s competency when he/she executed the Will. In essence, the challenge would be that the decedent was not mentally competent at the time he/she executed the last will and testament, and therefore, this document is invalid as a matter of law.

Continue Reading Invalidating a Will Due to Lack of Competency of the Decedent