Published: July 23, 2018

A beneficiary of an estate or a trust has the right to review the actions of the executor or trustee by asking for an accounting.   To be prudent, an executor or trustee should provide the beneficiary with updates on the status of the estate or trust.  First, an inventory should be provided soon after the commencement of the estate or trust followed by an informal accounting which details the disposition of assets and the payment of expenses.  And to save on filing fees with the Court, the executor or trustee should propose that the beneficiary waive a formal accounting

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Published: April 18, 2018

Before one considers filing an undue influence claim seeking to set aside a change in a Will or a recent transfer which reduces his or her share in an estate, there are a number of important factors to consider. In order to address the obvious proof problems in filing such a case, Courts have created a presumption of undue influence where there exist certain factors such as a confidential relationship between the testator/donor and the recipient of the gift along with suspicious circumstances surrounding the change in disposition.  

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Published: March 14, 2018

The transfer of wealth from the elderly has become the subject of heightened judicial scrutiny over the last several years, and this trend will only grow with the aging of the population.  Part of the issues faced by courts surround the use of a power of attorney and the potential for abuse of that power.  A power of attorney grants legal authority to an agent to make decisions on behalf of the principal.  A power of attorney is usually general in scope but of course can be limited in its application.  It can be made effective immediately or upon one’s disability.

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Published: December 14, 2017

A woman who dropped divorce proceedings three days after her husband died is entitled to the proceeds from his insurance policy but cannot claim his pension benefits, according to a recent Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling affirming an Orphans' Court holding addressing the effect of a postnuptial agreement between the couple prior to the issuance of a final divorce decree.

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Published: November 30, 2017

The two sons of legendary “B-Movie King” Roger Corman have made it clear through multiple lawsuits that they believe their parents are mismanaging trusts set up to benefit their four children. Allegations made in a recent filing, however, take a disturbing turn, accusing their mother of harassing the 91-year-old director of low-budget horror classics into making financial moves to benefit her, not their children, according to several publications.

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Published: November 15, 2017

A New York real estate deal valued at close to $1 billion came to a grinding halt when the underlying animosities between a late developer’s widow and his children from previous marriages came to a head in court. Although the litigation involves multiple claims of breach of fiduciary duties, the roots of the dispute can be found in estate planning decisions made by the developer years ago.

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Published: November 8, 2017

Beneficiaries who want to change a trust’s corporate trustee may have a much harder time under a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision.

The state high court held in July that the beneficiaries of a trust need court approval to remove a trustee under the Uniform Trust Act (UTA), reversing a lower court ruling that beneficiaries could modify a trust’s terms to allow them to remove and replace the corporate trustee at any time, at their discretion, without cause or judicial approval.

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Published: November 2, 2017

From Esau, who rashly traded his birthright to his twin brother Jacob for a cup of soup, to King Lear’s ill-conceived plan to leave his riches to only two out of three daughters, family dynamics can lead to estate problems.

Any one — or more — of the following six situations can easily lead to a court battle for control if the scenarios are not properly addressed during the estate planning process:

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Published: October 26, 2017

When Grateful Dead front man Jerry Garcia died in 1995, he left his custom guitars to the man who made them.

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Published: October 17, 2017

When celebrated author John Steinbeck died in the late 1960s, he left a considerable literary legacy that included the classic American novels The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, and the novella Of Mice and Men.

He also left behind loose ends regarding the rights to his works that would eventually pit members of the next generation of his family against each other in court for in excess of 40 years!

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