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Seeking Inheritance: Will You Sue?

After the death of a close relative, the money they have left behind is not always on everyone’s mind. But after the dust has settled, sorting through a will can reveal that individuals who may have assumed they would be left an inheritance were not, which can lead to complicated and messy legal battles with high emotions on both sides. If you have substantial belief that the will of a loved one was not valid or significantly outdated, you may be able to challenge the document for a more accurate interpretation. This is not always possible, and not everyone who thinks they have the right to do so actually is. Here’s a quick look.

Valid Reasons to Challenge: Not all reasons are good ones to challenge, at least not legally. Here are a few that could merit you legal standing and a further look into the validity of the document.

  • Fraud, Forgery, or Undue Influence. This is the one you’ll always see in action movies—the wealthy heiress has died, and the evil villain is somehow the sole beneficiary! That can’t be right. If you have proof that the deceased or the will was manipulated or otherwise invalid, it can result in a successful challenge.
  • Subsequent Editions. A surprise twist arises in our drama film: the heiress wrote another true will just before death—and you found it! Having an outdated document presented as the most accurate is one sure way to get it thrown out, and possessing the newer document should override the old.
  • Testamentary Capacity. This means that the person who made the document was not properly able to do so because they lacked the mental capacity, either through being under the influence of a substance, was senile, or insane.
  • Provisions Per State. The laws required by each state for a will to be valid can vary greatly, and if one document is valid in a particular state it won’t necessarily be so in another. If the document you wish to question does not meet the necessary requirements for its designated state, it can be found invalid for this reason.
  • Sufficient and Appropriate Witnesses. Just writing a will alone without the proper amount of witnesses for signing, as well as often a legal representative means that it can also be found invalid.

Who Can Challenge for Inheritance Rights? Not everyone is entitled to receive something after a death, and the only people who can even consider challenging the document include children, heirs, spouses, or other creditors. Surviving spouses generally have the largest rights to the assets of their now deceased spouse, and there is no legally protected right to an inheritance for children or grandchildren.

How to Know if Your Case Fits? If you are considering challenging for your inheritance, there is a lot more to the process of determining eligibility than just described in this short post. For a professional legal opinion, contact the attorneys here at Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman and Stahl PC for a consultation today at 732-422-1000.

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Estate Planning: The Early Bird Gets the Dough

It’s not the most fun topic to bring up over a holiday dinner, but the sooner you get started on estate planning, the more beneficial it will be to you and your descendants. It requires a large amount of time and effort, and those who delay doing so will pay the eventual price for their leisure. Your whole life efforts can be lost if you do not properly plan out where you would like your investments, assets, and other financial strengths to go. Here’s a quick look at the importance of estate planning, which is no longer for just the rich, but for all earners who want their assets to go to the intended beneficiaries upon death. While this is hopefully a long way off, those who die without leaving a solid plan for their estate may find their assets going to unintended individuals or the government.

First Breakdown. Some of the steps that you’ll need to take in your estate planning process include determining your beneficiaries, the breakdown of what each will receive, and the ways to do so without paying excess and unnecessary tax obligations. Before doing any of this, however, the first step is assessing your net worth to know how much you even have to distribute. Understanding the basics of how this is done is vital in making sure that your financial goals are carried out, as well as for furthering any philanthropic aims you may have for your assets after you are gone.

Assessing Net Worth. Getting an accurate, or as near to accurate number as possible, for your net worth is an important first step in preparing your estate for a sound financial future. This involves taking stock of all your assets and debts and looking at them holistically to see how much you possess financially. Your assets include investments, cash, retirement accounts, life insurance, real estate or other property, business interest, and personal possessions of value. Debts are then subtracted from the sum of all your assets and the end result is your net worth.

Taxes are also a painfully important part to understand during the estimation of your net worth. Along with your federal taxes, other states have estate and inheritance taxes that will significantly impact what you will be able to give to beneficiaries.

Healthcare Decisions. These are another vital part of preparing for end of life care that goes along with planning for your estate. Using a living will, you will be able to dictate exactly how you would like to be cared for if you’re no longer able to properly express those wishes yourself. Giving a close relative such as a spouse or adult child the power of attorney will enable them to make decisions for you, with the assumption that they would act as you would have wished. Without establishing these wishes yourself in legally protected documentation, the government will use the default legal requirements to make those decisions for you.

Experienced Attorneys are Here to Help: For all matters of estate planning and end of life decisions, having a qualified lawyer on your side will make the whole process smoother for all involved. Each of us at Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman and Stahl, PC has extensive experience and are here for you. Contact us for a consultation at 732-422-1000 today.

After the Accident: 12 Essential Steps

The screech has echoed, your heart is racing and someone is yelling—the immediate aftermath of a car accident can be tremendously stressful, and common mistakes made in this critical time frame can cause an immense amount of preventable headaches. Here’s what you need to do following a car accident to ensure you’re able to get back to normal as soon as possible afterwards.

  1. Stay where you are. Don’t leave the scene of the accident until you are absolutely sure it is time, which includes at least the first six steps on this list. This is particularly serious if someone was injured or killed, as there are severe criminal penalties for ‘hit and run’ incidents.
  2. Assess the health of those involved. Don’t even think about checking out that knocked over mailbox before you know that all the passengers and drivers involved are physically well. This may include calling for an ambulance. Let certified emergency personnel do any moving of people who may have sustained back or neck injuries.
  3. Call law enforcement. In many states it is a crime for not filing a police report after an accident. Be sure you record the name and badge number of the officer who responds, and get the number on the police report as well.
  4. Exchange your information. With the other drivers involved, be sure that you obtain their: name, phone number, address, driver’s license number, license plate number, and insurance information. Also be sure to get the basic information of passengers involved.
  5. Speak with people at the scene. If there are witnesses in addition to those drivers and passengers, do get quotes from these people on what they saw, and ask for contact information if possible. See if there have been multiple incidents in that location previously.
  6. Photograph the incident. As soon as possible following the accident, take photographs of your vehicle or any property damage that may have occurred. This will help your insurance properly account for the damages. And while we’re at it…
  7. Call your insurance. Cooperate with your insurance company in telling exactly what happened, even if you are at fault. Give them the full information from the police report and details regarding any injuries you have sustained.
  8. Obtain a property damage valuation. Also from your insurance company, get the numbers on how they’ve valued the damage to your vehicle. If you don’t agree with their assessment, you can seek out a second opinion.
  9. Track your own well-being. Keep detailed records of medical treatment you have following an accident, including documenting expenses and doctors’ recommendations. Additionally, record if you have had to miss work due to your injuries and other ways the incident has affected your daily life.
  10. Speak cautiously. Especially at the scene of the accident, do not apologize for anything, as it can be considered a legal admission of guilt. Afterwards, be careful about speaking with other insurance companies about the incident, and refer those calling unannounced to your attorney or own insurance company.
  11. Consider the settlement. If you’re being offered a settlement before your physical injuries have been healed, take care not to rush into signing off any future rights to compensation. Discuss this additionally with your attorney, as explained below.
  12. Work with your attorney. You’ll need an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you after an accident to get the compensation you deserve, and we at Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman and Stahl, P.C. are up to the task. Call us today for a consultation at 732-422-1000.

Types of Courts

What Court Handles What?

There are so many different types of courts in the United States legal system; it is one of the factors that makes our country so unique and successful.  Different systems are used to differentiate between types of legal matters, and the areas in which they are applicable.

If you’ve been charged with a crime or disorderly persons offense, it’s important to understand more about the system in which you will be tried, and it’s good to know for general citizens as well! Here is a quick overview about the different types of courts in New Jersey and the cases that they handle.

NJ Supreme Court

This is the highest court of the state, and reviews cases that had been first decided in the lower courts. They have a direct impact on the application and interpretation of laws which already exist, with the power to set precedent and to overturn rulings from the lower courts which may have been incorrectly applied.

Superior Court

This court rules judgement on what are known as felonies in other jurisdictions, and called ‘indictable crimes’ here in NJ. These cases often include the more serious crimes, including aggravated assault and homicide.

Superior Court, Appellate Division

If there is an appeal coming from a lower court, the appellate division will consider whether or not the original decision should be reversed. This includes appeals to overturn a criminal conviction.

Municipal Court

These cover disorderly persons and petty disorderly persons offenses, including cases of disorderly conduct, possession of a fake ID, simple assault, resisting arrest, harassment, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana, shoplifting under $200, and the underage possession of alcohol. These are seen as the least serious crimes, but can still carry steep penalties with them if convicted.

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, it is likely that you will need to have your case handled in the municipal court or superior court by a professional lawyer. With an experienced attorney on your side, you will be granted the utmost protection under the law.

If the case goes in a way which you believe was unfair or unjust under the law, there is also the possibility for your case to be moved to the Superior Court, appellate division or even to the NJ Supreme Court depending on the case and the circumstances which surround it.

For a consultation about the legal services which we offer here at Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman and Stahl, PC, contact me, attorneys today. I can be reached at our phone’s main line at 732-422-1000 and would be happy to answer and of your questions regarding our 50 plus years of legal services in Central New Jersey. We can offer representation in a wide range of areas through specialized service, in all of the above court jurisdictions.

Facts about Retail Fraud

Beating the System or Breaking the Law?

Retail fraud is a relatively new area of law, in which customers go a step beyond ‘extreme couponing’ to get a deal on their purchases that was far from what the business originally intended their savings-giving promotions to entail. So before you take that extra step towards getting a too good to be true purchase using less than tried and true methods, read on to discover some of the ways that other seemingly savvy shoppers have gotten slammed by the law.

The Kohl’s Case: One retail giant recently learned the hard way about the importance of being a little more secretive about how they assigned codes on their rewards certificates. With the ‘Kohl’s Cash’ program, the clothing store regularly offers a $10 store credit to shoppers for every $50 that they spend in one visit. These could then easily be stored up and spent within the specified window during which they were valid, a way to draw customers back into the store and keep their business thriving.

However, hackers Pavan Gurram and Vanaia Gattupalli cracked the code of the individual ID numbers given to each ‘Kohl’s Cash’ slip, determined which numbers would be valid then, and used the numbers that other shoppers should have attained to make out with thousands in free clothing that they would either resell or keep. From the summer of 2014 to 2015, the couple stole more than $600,000 in rewards money before they were caught and charged.

Rewards Fraud Consequence. For those who do perpetrate rewards fraud and are found out, they will be facing serious charges. The couple in the Kohl’s case were federally charged with electronic theft by computer across state lines, and were indicted on 10 counts of federal wire fraud. This statue carries with it a maximum term of 20 years in prison, steep fines, and restitution payment to the retailer from which the goods were stolen.

Other Charges: Additionally, retail fraud in New Jersey can also land those involved with charges of theft by deception, theft of services and computer criminal activity. If the fraud is done in person, it can also be associated with shoplifting—either a disorderly persons offense or indictable felony offense with lengthy sentencing as well. Each of these crimes carry their own separate penalties under the law, and are taken far more seriously than just trying to use an expired coupon at the checkout!

Knowing Your Options. If you or a loved one are facing charges for retail fraud in conjunction with a retail store, you need a team of experienced defense lawyers at your side every step of the way. Our team of attorneys here at Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman and Stahl, PC are experienced full service lawyers who practice multiple areas of law, including this one. For a consultation about your case and your options moving forward, call me, attorneys, today at 732-422-1000. You’ll be glad that you did.

What to Know If Your Child Gets Arrested

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, but an all too common reality for many New Jersey residents: your child gets arrested, charged with criminal activity, and you don’t know how to help. There are limited options for a parent to take after such an event, but it is important for you to know what happens after the arrest of a juvenile and your options to help them moving forward.

Finding Legal Representation. For youth arrested in New Jersey, it is mandatory that they have legal representation during a formal court hearing. It is likely in your best interest to seek out a juvenile crimes attorney who has specialized experience working with young people and the laws surrounding their rights. If you choose not to go the route of hiring a private attorney, your child will be assigned a public defender. These individuals often have high numbers of cases that they are representing and as such may not be able to fully devote their talents to your child’s case to the full extent of their ability.

Visitation Rights: Each juvenile justice facility has its’ own separate list of rules and regulations for those that they are holding. Juveniles are not eligible for bail like an adult would be, but as a parent you will be able to visit provided that you bring identification and follow all the rules of the facility for the duration of your visit.

Pre-Release Hearing: This is a hearing in which the judge will consider multiple factors to see if it is appropriate to release your child into your custody. They will consider whether it is safe for everyone involved, including the safety of your child as well as the general public. They will weigh the likelihood that your child will return for the future legally-required hearings, and ensure that all of their information about your address and your child’s identity are accurately identified.

Your Role in the Hearing: During the hearing, you will have the opportunity to testify or speak on behalf of your child. You are not legally required to appear at this event, and your attorney will usually handle most of the talking during the proceedings. You will have a set period of time in which to speak after you have been directly asked to do so, and will be able to answer questions set forth by the judge as well as provide your own testimony on the case and about your child.

First Steps First: If your child gets arrested, being accused or charged with committing a crime, you will want to immediately seek out expert legal help. Here at Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman and Stahl, PC, we can provide you and your child with the support that you need. With over fifty years of legal services in Central NJ, we have seen it all. For a consultation with me, attorneys, call today at 732-422-1000 to learn more about how we will put our expertise to work for you.