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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 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

Once an individual is appointed as an executor of an estate, they will have access to assets that belong to the estate. Some of these assets may involve liquid funds which the executor can utilize during the administration of the estate to complete this process. Some permissible uses would be retaining counsel to assist with administration, or using assets of the estate to pay any applicable taxes or expenses of the estate. Unfortunately, at times, the executor may improperly utilize estate assets for their benefit and not for the benefit of the estate or the beneficiaries of the same. Such misuse of estate funds by an executor would be a breach of the executor’s fiduciary duty.

Continue Reading Misuse of Estate Funds by Executor of an Estate

If you are beneficiary of an Estate, at some point you will be asked to sign a Refunding Bond and Release prior to receiving your bequest from an Estate. The logical question that will arise is what exactly you are being asked to sign. The purpose of this blog is discuss generally what a Refunding Bond and Release is and how it relates to your distribution from the Estate.

Continue Reading The Refunding Bond and Release

The purpose of this blog is to discuss the first steps an executor should consider if a Will contest is filed either immediately before or after they are appointed an executor an Estate. When a Will contest is filed it is usually commenced by the filing of a verified complaint, which will set forth the rationale by which the party challenging the Will seeks to invalidate it. As discussed in some of my previous blogs, the two main challenges will either be lack of testamentary capacity of the decedent, or undue influence asserted by a person over the decedent who is a beneficiary under the Will.

Continue Reading Defending Will Contest

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