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Maureen E. Vella, Esq. is the Managing Partner of VSK Law Group. Ms. Vella is a graduate of Rutgers University and received her Juris Doctor from Sout... (more)

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Construction, Wills & Probate, Family Law, Banking & Finance
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International Tax, Estate Planning, Business
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Litigation, Estate Planning, Workers' Compensation, Personal Injury
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Premises Liability, Wills & Probate, Workers' Compensation, Wrongful Death
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LEGAL TERMS

PROPERTY CONTROL TRUST

Any trust that imposes limits or controls over the rights of trust beneficiaries. These trusts include (1) special needs trusts designed to assist people who ha... (more...)
Any trust that imposes limits or controls over the rights of trust beneficiaries. These trusts include (1) special needs trusts designed to assist people who have special physical, emotional or other requirements, (2) spendthrift trusts designed to prevent a beneficiary from wasting the trust principal; and (3) sprinkling trusts that allow the trustee to decide how to distribute trust income or principal among the beneficiaries.

DISINHERIT

To deliberately prevent someone from inheriting something. This is usually done by a provision in a will stating that someone who would ordinarily inherit prope... (more...)
To deliberately prevent someone from inheriting something. This is usually done by a provision in a will stating that someone who would ordinarily inherit property -- a close family member, for example -- should not receive it. In most states, you cannot completely disinherit your spouse; a surviving spouse has the right to claim a portion (usually one-third to one-half) of the deceased spouse's estate. With a few exceptions, however, you can expressly disinherit children.

PREDECEASED SPOUSE

In the law of wills, a spouse who dies before the will maker while still married to him or her.

AB TRUST

A trust that allows couples to reduce or avoid estate taxes. Each spouse puts his or her property in an AB trust. When the first spouse dies, his or her half of... (more...)
A trust that allows couples to reduce or avoid estate taxes. Each spouse puts his or her property in an AB trust. When the first spouse dies, his or her half of the property goes to the beneficiaries named in the trust -- commonly, the grown children of the couple -- with the crucial condition that the surviving spouse has the right to use the property for life and is entitled to any income it generates. The surviving spouse may even be allowed to spend principal in certain circumstances. When the surviving spouse dies, the property passes to the trust beneficiaries. It is not considered part of the second spouse's estate for estate tax purposes. Using this kind of trust keeps the second spouse's taxable estate half the size it would be if the property were left directly to the spouse. This type of trust is also known as a bypass or credit shelter trust.

COUNTERCLAIM

A defendant's court papers that seek to reverse the thrust of the lawsuit by claiming that it was the plaintiff -- not the defendant -- who committed legal wron... (more...)
A defendant's court papers that seek to reverse the thrust of the lawsuit by claiming that it was the plaintiff -- not the defendant -- who committed legal wrongs, and that as a result it is the defendant who is entitled to money damages or other relief. Usually filed as part of the defendant's answer -- which also denies plaintiff's claims -- a counterclaim is commonly but not always based on the same events that form the basis of the plaintiff's complaint. For example, a defendant in an auto accident lawsuit might file a counterclaim alleging that it was really the plaintiff who caused the accident. In some states, the counterclaim has been replaced by a similar legal pleading called a cross-complaint. In other states and in federal court, where counterclaims are still used, a defendant must file any counterclaim that stems from the same events covered by the plaintiff's complaint or forever lose the right to do so. In still other states where counterclaims are used, they are not mandatory, meaning a defendant is free to raise a claim that it was really the plaintiff who was at fault either in a counterclaim or later as part of a separate lawsuit.

CONTINGENT BENEFICIARY

1) An alternate beneficiary named in a will, trust or other document. 2) Any person entitled to property under a will if one or more prior conditions are satisf... (more...)
1) An alternate beneficiary named in a will, trust or other document. 2) Any person entitled to property under a will if one or more prior conditions are satisfied. For example, if Fred is entitled to take property under a will only if he's married at the time of the will maker's death, Fred is a contingent beneficiary. Similarly, if Ellen is named to receive a house only in the event her mother, who has been named to live in the house, moves out of it, Ellen is a contingent beneficiary.

SURVIVING SPOUSE'S TRUST

If a couple has created an AB trust, the revocable living trust (Trust B) of the surviving spouse, after the first spouse has died.

ENDOWMENT INSURANCE

Provides that an insured person who lives for the specified endowment period receives the face value of the insurance policy--that is, the amount paid at death.... (more...)
Provides that an insured person who lives for the specified endowment period receives the face value of the insurance policy--that is, the amount paid at death. If the policy-holder dies sooner, the beneficiary named in the policy receives the proceeds.

ADMINISTRATRIX

An outdated term for a female administrator -- the person appointed by a court to handle probate on behalf of someone who died without a will. Now, whether male... (more...)
An outdated term for a female administrator -- the person appointed by a court to handle probate on behalf of someone who died without a will. Now, whether male or female, this person is called the administrator.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Brundage v. Estate of Carambio

The facts and circumstances that bring this matter before the Court are in some ways truly unique because, merely by the happenstance of timing, the effect of the attorney's behavior, even if we were to find that it violated our ethical standards, could not have affected the outcome of ...

In re Estate of Stockdale

We conclude that, actions arising from disputed wills and related documents designed to dispose of estate assets and which rest on allegations of undue influence are most often resolved through the equitable remedies available in the Probate Part. We further conclude that, although a ...

Estate of Cordero v. Christ Hosp.

Plaintiffs, the estate and husband of Ramona Cordero, appeal from an order granting summary judgment in favor of defendant Christ Hospital on claims of fraudulent concealment of evidence and vicarious liability for the negligence of defendant Dr. Selvia G. Zaklama. Dr. Zaklama, ...