Category Archives: The Doctrine of Laches

Fraud and the Time Limit for Challenging Probate

     In the Matter of the Estate of Elizabeth Tanksley, Docket No. A-1056-11T2 (Jan. 18, 2013), the Appellate Division addressed the effect of an Administrator’s fraud on the time limits of R.4:85-1.      By way of background, the decedent died intestate on January 13, 2000. She was survived by six adult children. At the time of her death, the decedent resided in a house in Camden, New Jersey. The estate included a life insurance policy and a piece of real property. The insurance proceeds were used to pay decedent’s funeral costs. However, the estate was not otherwise administered for several years, and during that time the real property remained vacant.      At some point during that time, one of the decedent’s daughters moved into and began to maintain the real property. Then, in 2005, she submitted an Affidavit of Heir to the Camden County Surrogate seeking title to the real property. In the portion of the affidavit requiring the listing of the names, residences, and relationships of all heirs of the decedent, she only listed herself. She also certified that she had “presented for filing the consent of all of said heirs who have capacity to consent” and was therefore … Continue reading

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The Doctrine of Laches

In a recent decision from the Chancery Division in Essex County, New Jersey, Buie v. Estate of Buie, an unreported decision, Docket No. ESX-C-192-10, the Court put the Doctrine of Laches to use in dismissing the claims of a surviving spouse. Here, the decedent died in January 1996. He had six children, only one of whom was the child of his wife at the time of his death. The decedent died testate, leaving his property in Newark to be divided among his six children equally. One week after his death, the plaintiff, his wife, who received non-probate assets of $95,000, left the house in question and returned to South Carolina with co-plaintiff, her son with the decedent.

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