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What is Estate Litigation in New Jersey?

Losing a loved one is never easy, but having to deal with disputes arising over their estate, while in the middle of the grieving process can make an already difficult situation, that much more devastating. An estate is a legal entity that is comprised of an individual’s assets that may be distributed by an appointed executor (when there is a Will) or administrator (when there is no Will). The process of concluding a decedent’s affairs and distributing any remaining assets to his or her beneficiaries is known as Estate Administration.

A comprehensive estate plan is the best way to avoid estate disputes upon a person’s passing. However, in the absence of such an estate plan or when disputes arise over the distribution of these assets, the estate can become litigated. During this litigation, parties with claims against the estate are granted the opportunity to file their grievances with the Court. Estate laws in New Jersey can be complex, and thus it is critical to have an experienced probate and estate attorney by your side to guide you along the way.


Unfortunately, situations may sometimes arise where you or a loved one may feel cheated or incorrectly left out of a Will or a Trust. In such situations, you may attempt to contest the situation in the Probate Court. There are important deadlines to bring any claims. Thus, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.

Will Contests

One of the most common forms of estate litigation is the Will contest. Will contests occur when an interested party formally objects to the validity of a Will. Parties may levy such objections for a myriad of reasons such as, but not limited to, the Will not being reflective of the Testator’s actual intentions; the Testator not having the requisite mental capacity to create the Will; a third party unduly influencing the Testator; or even forgery.

A New Jersey Will is legally valid when executed willingly by a testator who was of sound mind. When there is evidence that the testator was instead unaware, oblivious or even coerced into what they were signing, the Will itself might be invalid and you can bring a challenge of its validity to the Probate Court.

Undue Influence

Many Will contests involve situations of undue influence. This is when someone pressured a testator in such a way that the testator was not actually acting through his or her own free will and rather was coerced into taking certain actions. The goal when distributing a decedent’s assets is to honor the intent of his or her wishes to the extent possible. However, when undue influence occurs, it is the wishes of a bad actor getting carried out and not those of the decedent. This occurs most commonly when a decedent was in an especially vulnerable situation while a bad actor was in prime position to take advantage of the situation. If you believe that a loved one was taken advantage of by creating a Will that did not properly represent his or her true wishes, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Scura, Wigfield, Heyer, Stevens & Cammarota, LLP can help.

Contested Estate Administration

Estate administration is the process by which an individual's lifetime assets and affairs are wound up and then distributed upon their death. This responsibility falls to the estate executor or administrator. In the case of an executor, he or she must balance the expectations set out in the Will, while also adhering to the requirements of state law. The executor must first ensure that all of the decedent’s bills and debts have been paid, starting with the funeral arrangements, and once that is complete the executor must distribute the remaining assets in accordance with the Will.

When an appointed executor or administrator does not perform his or her duties in accordance with their responsibilities, it may become necessary to apply to the Court to legally mandate the representative to complete their obligations or otherwise be replaced.

We Are Your NJ Estate Litigation Firm

As Estate Litigation lawyers, defending you is about two simple things:

  • Protecting Your Interests
  • Providing Expert Trial Work

At the Law Offices of Scura, Wigfield, Heyer, Stevens & Cammarota, LLP, we understand the deeply personal and emotional stakes involved with Estate Litigation and work to represent the best interests of our clients. We will always take all necessary steps to protect and defend the rights of those we represent. Our New Jersey-based firm has a proven track record of trying cases to a successful conclusion. However, we also realize that a courtroom may not be the best forum for your matter.

John J. Scura III, Esq. and Pietro Cammarota, Esq. are both skilled New Jersey lawyers. Equally important, they are both skilled negotiators and mediators. Litigation can become expensive, and together with our legal team, we seek practical and efficient solutions, not complications and needless confrontations. Whether it is challenging an invalid will, recovering stolen assets, or protecting the intention of the deceased, the Law Offices of Scura, Wigfield, Heyer, Stevens & Cammarota, LLP is dedicated to protecting your rights and preserving the assets of you and your loved ones.

John J. Scura, III, Esq.

John is an experienced civil litigation attorney. He handles a wide array of different estate law cases including wills, trusts, and estate litigation.

John graduated from the University of South Florida in 1988. He graduated from Seton Hall University School of Law in 1993.

John has been certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Civil Trial Attorney. He has been admitted to the bars in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, the United States District Court of the District of New Jersey, the Southern District of New York and the Eastern District of New York.

Pietro Cammarota, Esq.

Pietro is an experienced trusts and estate attorney. Since 2000, he has limited his practice to estate planning, estate administration, elder law, and Medicaid planning. Occasionally Pietro acts as a court-appointed attorney in guardianship matters in Passaic County.

Pietro received his bachelor's degree from New York University in 1993. He then graduated Seton Hall University School of Law in 1998.

Pietro has been admitted to practice law in New Jersey, New York, and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Additionally, Pietro has been a member of both the New Jersey State Bar Association and the Passaic County Bar Association since 1999. He has also been a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys since 2003.

Schedule an Initial Consultation Today

Our law firm handles all aspects of will contests, estate and trust litigation, estate administration, probate, estate planning, asset recovery and beneficiary rights. With over 50 years of combined Estate Litigation experience, we are a premier New Jersey estate law firm.

Call our offices at 973-696-8391 in Wayne, Secaucus, Hoboken, Hackensack or Newark, New Jersey or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation about your estate matter.