Many in New Jersey know firsthand that losing a loved one is never easy. The grieving process is often interrupted by funeral and burial arrangements and the probate of that loved one's estate. Things can get even more complicated when a probate dispute arises, causing delays in administering the estate and risking the loss of an inheritance for the heirs and beneficiaries.
New Jersey frozen pizza lovers may have heard of Jeno Paulucci, who founded Chun King Foods and was worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 million at the time of his death in Nov. 2011, at the age of 93. Up until weeks before his death, control of the majority of his fortune rested with two attorneys serving as trustees of one of the frozen pizza tycoon's trusts. In Oct. 2011, he replaced them with two other people. Paulucci's wife died just four days before he did, and shortly before her death, she made the same change to her trust. That move has sparked a probate dispute by two of the couple's children.
New Jersey readers may remember Farrah Fawcett from her days as one of "Charlie's Angels," which made her a television icon. After her death, her longtime, on again off again partner, Ryan O'Neal was in possession of one of two paintings of Fawcett done by Andy Warhol. The university that inherited the companion painting done by Warhol initiated a probate dispute against O'Neal claiming it was supposed to inherit both paintings.
There is nearly $300 million at stake, an incredible fortune by any standards. Put in the simplest of terms, the probate dispute filed by family members of the deceased is aiming to determine whether the old adage that "blood is thicker than water" is true. Now it will may be up to a court to decide a dispute that could cost one side millions of dollars.
New Jersey residents would most likely agree that the last thing most people want to think about when they have lost a loved one is paperwork. Unfortunately, at some point, it will be necessary for the family to deal with their loved one's estate. Many people are left wondering how to begin the estate administration.
Many people think that just because their estate is small and won't be subject to estate tax that they don't need an estate plan. That simply isn't the case. Every New Jersey resident can benefit from doing some estate planning.
New Jersey readers may have heard of a recent court case in a neighboring state that got national attention. A probate dispute between a widow and the current family of her former adoptive daughter ended in the daughter's favor. The teenage girl, who was originally adopted from China, is now entitled to a portion of her former adoptive father's $250 million estate after he left behind a trust to care for her.