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Estate Litigation in Gloucester County, New Jersey

Estate Litigation, It’s All We Do


We are a premier estate litigation law firm having handled contested estate matters in the Gloucester County area for decades. Nobody is better than the team fielded by our firm. Our team includes seasoned litigators that are matched with attorneys with advanced degrees in estate matters. The firm’s founder, Peter Klenk, received his masters-in-law, or LL.M, from the prestigious NYU Law School LL.M. program. Our attorneys have also served their country; both attorneys Peter Klenk and Glen Ridenour served in the United States Navy JAGC.

Dedicated, loyal, and hardworking. Let our team represent you.

Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference. Let our experienced Gloucester County estate litigation attorneys defend your rights!

Why Hire an Experienced Gloucester County Estate Litigation Lawyer?

Estate litigation matters are highly technical and extremely complex. Why hire a general practitioner or an attorney who only dabbles in estate litigation?

  • Settling the Estate Litigation Dispute: If your attorney does not understand estate litigation, then a chance to settle a dispute might be lost. After decades of helping people through the legal and emotional issues surrounding the death of a friend or family member, I have found that in most cases any disputes that exist can be settled peacefully, especially if the parties have good advice on how to avoid potential conflicts. If the attorney you retain does not understand the strengths and weakness of the Parties positions or the subtleties of the Gloucester County Surrogates Court, then a settlement might be missed, resulting in expensive litigation.
  • The Best Representation: In some cases conflict and disputes surrounding an estate are unavoidable. In those cases, it is invaluable for you to have the advice of a Gloucester County estate litigation attorney whose firm focuses exclusively on estate matters. Conflicts involving estate matters in Gloucester County are heard in front of either the Gloucester County Surrogate or the Gloucester County Surrogates Court. Our Gloucester County estate litigation lawyers have decades of experience in front of both the Gloucester County Surrogate and the Gloucester County Surrogates Court and would be happy to answer your questions during a free consultation.

Our areas of Practice:

Our experienced litigation team focuses only on estate litigation. We don’t dabble in other areas. We provide our Gloucester County clients with experienced, high quality, trusted legal counsel. Our estate and trust litigation attorneys have years of experience representing both sides should a dispute arise between the beneficiaries of a Gloucester County trust or estate and the fiduciariestrustees, executors or administrators. Our practice in Gloucester County includes but is not limited to the following types of litigation:

  • Gloucester County Will Contests/Will Challenges,
  • Compelling and Defending Accountings filed with the Gloucester County Surrogates Court,
  • Representing the Rights of Gloucester County Beneficiaries,
  • Addressing Breach of Fiduciary Duty Matters in the Gloucester County Surrogates Court,
  • Filing and Defending Caveats With the Gloucester County Surrogate
  • Representing Gloucester County Co-Executors/Co-Administrators and Co-Trustees During Disputes,
  • Addressing Fraudulent Transfers From Gloucester County Estates and Trusts,
  • Representing the Various Parties During Gloucester County Guardianship Filings,
  • Representing Agents and Interested Parties During Gloucester County Power of Attorney Disputes,
  • All Gloucester County Probate Litigation,
  • Advising Surviving Spouses About Spousal Rights of Election,
  • Representing Beneficiaries Regarding Removal of a Gloucester County Trustee or Executor,
  • Representing Trustees and Beneficiaries for Trust Reformations,
  • Representing Parties to Will and Trust Construction Disputes, and
  • Advising and Representing Beneficiaries and Executors During Wrongful Death Claims.

Representing You During Trust, Estate and Fiduciary Litigation in Gloucester County

Will Contests and Will Challenges: A Gloucester County will can be contested in the Gloucester County Surrogates Court by interested parties when the scrivener was under undue influence, when the will is a forgery, if there was fraud, or if the person lacked capacity to sign the will. Read more about will contests and will challenges.

Accountings, Compelling and Defending:

To obtain a full release of liability, an Agent under a Gloucester County Power of Attorney, an Executor or Administrator of a Gloucester County Estate or a Trustee of a Gloucester County situs Trust must either be released by the beneficiaries or obtain a release from the Gloucester County Surrogates Court. Typically, the fiduciary will have an informal accounting and releases drafted by a Gloucester County attorney, which is then circulated to all interested parties. If the Beneficiaries will not sign the release, then in order for the fiduciary to be released, he or she must file a formal accounting. This Accounting must be served on all interested parties and submitted for review by the Gloucester County Surrogates Court. Typically, the interested parties will have the formal accounting reviewed by a Gloucester County attorney experienced in estate matters review the accounting, and advise them. If the formal accounting does not satisfy the concerns of these interested parties, then they will have their Gloucester County attorney file Objections to the Accounting. By filing Objections to the Accounting the Beneficiary then obtains the right to appear in front of the judge to dispute the actions taken by the Agent, Executor or Trustee.

Beneficiary Representation:

Often beneficiaries of Gloucester County estates and trusts will retain our firm to represent them, even if there is no immediate need to file a cause of action in the Gloucester County Surrogates Court. Unless you have years of experience with the rules and procedures surrounding a Gloucester County a estate or interpreting a Gloucester County situs trust, you will likely find this area strange and confusing.

Beneficiary Rights:

At one time the beneficiary of a Gloucester County estate or trust had view if any rights, and executors and trustees held the upper hand. This has changed.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty:

Under Gloucester County law, a fiduciary is a person or professional entity, such as a bank, who holds a special relationship of trust and responsibility to anther person. Typical examples of fiduciaries are executors, personal representatives, administrators, trustees and agents. If a person or entity has agreed to take on the position of fiduciary, then they are held to have a duty to execute the responsibilities of that position. If you believe a fiduciary has abused his or her powers or has not carried out his or her duties, and this has resulted in harm or financial loss, you can have our Estate Litigation Attorneys bring them before the Gloucester County Surrogates Court, where they will have to defend and explain their actions.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty; Advising Fiduciaries to Prevent Claims:

You may be considering taking on the responsibility of serving as a Gloucester County based Executor, Trustee or serving as the Agent under a Gloucester County based Power of Attorney, or you may already be serving as such a fiduciary. Likely, you are willing to take on this job to help a friend or family member, but by taking this job you open yourself up to claims of Breach of Fiduciary Duty and potentially open yourself up to personal liability. In general, Gloucester County Agents, Executors and Trustees are allowed to use the assets under their control to hire an attorney to advise them to help avoid traps and pitfalls inherent in the job.

Caveats:

If you feel that a forged will, or a will created under undue influence or executed when the deceased person was incapacitated will be filed with the Gloucester County Surrogate, you have the ability to retain Gloucester County estate litigation attorney to file a Caveat, which will prevent the will from being accepted by the Gloucester County Surrogate.

Co-Executor, Co-Administrator and Co-Trustee Disputes:

It has become common for Gloucester County Estates to have co-executors or co-administrators. It has also become common for Gloucester County situs Trusts to have co-trustees. Modern communication allows co-fiduciaries to handle matters from great distances by using overnight mail, faxes, and email to accomplish tasks in days that once took weeks. While most Gloucester County co-executors, co-administrators and co-trustees work together without conflict, sometimes disputes arise requiring each fiduciary to retain his or her own attorney.

Fraudulent Transfers:

It is a sad but true reality that when persons are weakened by age, infirmity or mental health, others around them sometimes take advantage of this weakened state. Sadder yet, the people who most often abuse the trust of others are family members, friends and even attorneys or members of the person’s church. If you believe the assets of a Gloucester County resident, such as a bank account, deed or personal property such as jewelry have been obtained improperly from a weakened person, especially in the last months of their lifetime, our experienced Gloucester County Litigation Attorneys can bring an action for Fraudulent Transfer for you in the Gloucester County Surrogates Court.

Guardianship and Incapacitated Person Hearings:

Age or disease might affect a person so they are no longer able to make their own financial decisions or even make the most simple decisions about their own care. If that person resides in Gloucester County, a concerned person can retain one of our Gloucester County Litigation Attorneys to petition the Gloucester County Surrogates Court to have a Guardian of the Person or Guardian of the Estate appointed to care for the incapacitated person with the court’s oversight.

Powers of Attorney, Challenging:

If you feel that the person trusted with a Gloucester County Power of Attorney has abused that power through misuse of authority, self-dealing, theft or embezzlement, or if you feel that the power of attorney was obtained through undue influence or from a person was incompetent to execute the power of attorney, then you have the right to retain an attorney experienced with Gloucester County estate litigation to bring that person before the Gloucester County Surrogates Court.

Powers of Attorney, Defending:

If you have accepted the position of Agent under a power of attorney then you have also accepted the possibility that an interested party will question what you have done with that power. You may have been the most honest Agent possible, but you may still be required to defend your actions in court. Because of that legal responsibility, and the danger of being surcharged from your own funds for actions you took as agent, you may wish to retain one of our lawyers, experienced in Gloucester County estate law, to advise you.

Probate Litigation:

Probate in Gloucester County begins with the Gloucester County Surrogate. If a deceased Gloucester County resident had a will, then the person who is appointed by the Surrogate is called an Executor. If the deceased Gloucester County resident had no will, then the Surrogate is charged to select from the eligible persons an Administrator to administer the estate. If the terms of the will are vague, or if there is no will, then a dispute might exist between the interested parties as to who should serve as the executor or administrator. This dispute might lead to a hearing with the Gloucester County Surrogate. Our Gloucester County Litigation Attorneys regularly represent parties in hearings before the Gloucester County Surrogate.

Spousal Right of Election:

Under New Jersey law a surviving spouse cannot be disinherited except under certain circumstances. In most cases, a surviving spouse of a Gloucester County deceased has the option within a limited time to claim a right for a spousal election.

Removal of Trustees and Executors:

If a beneficiary or other interested party believes that a Trustee of a Gloucester County situs Trust or the Executor of a Gloucester County Estate has not fulfilled his duties or obligations, or has committed a Breach of Fiduciary Duty, he or she can have one of our experienced Gloucester County Litigation Attorneys file a removal petition with the Gloucester County Surrogates Court.

Trust Reformations:

A Trust Reformation is that actual changing of the trust’s terms. Changing the terms of an Irrevocable Trust is a complex matter that could have several unexpected results, so it should not be attempted by anyone without a complete understanding of the various Federal and New Jersey tax ramifications as well as New Jersey trust law and asset protection aspects of trusts. This is not something learned quickly or easily, it takes years of study and practice to fully understand. If you are the trustee or a beneficiary of a Gloucester County trust that is not providing the intended benefits envisioned by its grantor, our Gloucester County attorneys focus their entire practice on Trusts and Estates matters, and have years of experience with reformation of Gloucester County Trusts.

Will and Trust Construction:

In Gloucester County estate litigation, sometimes the dispute is not over the validity of a will or trust, instead it is a dispute over the terms of the will or trust. Badly drafted wills and trusts ofGloucesterten have ambiguous terms that can cause confusion and disputes. These disputes are heard in the Gloucester County Surrogates Court.

Wrongful Death Claims:

We work closely with Gloucester County executors who bring wrongful death claims on behalf of the deceased. The actual law suit is handled by attorneys who specialize in wrongful death suits, but these attorneys rarely also specialize in the complex tax matters and with the delicate and complex settlements that must take place with the eventual settlement funds. The executor is well advised to have a Gloucester County Lawyer well versed in estate matters to advise them, to help avoid tax traps and conflicts with the beneficiaries.
Please contact Klenk Law for a Free Consultation for any of your estate litigation needs.

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Estate Matters
The Klenk Law Blog



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