Dealing With An Ex-Girlfriend Who Won’t Cooperate In An Estate Probate Administration

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Estate & Probate Administration Attorney

An accountant was representing an estate that has a gross value of approximately $80,000 – $100,000. One of the beneficiaries is the decedent’s sister. The other beneficiary is the decedent’s Ex-Girlfriend who remained a joint owner of some of the decedent’s accounts. New Jersey has entered an arbitrary estate value assessment from the Division of Taxation in the amount of $300,000 service TD Ameritrade provided a date of death balance for their joint account. However, two Florida banks are refusing to provide date of death balances for two small joint accounts. They will only speak with the ex-girlfriend who lives in Florida, but she is uncooperative. What can be done to obtain the date of death balances from the Florida banks?

The decedent’s sister is the executor. Also, the decedent died a domiciled resident of New Jersey. He maintained these accounts in Florida even after he moved back from Florida.

One option is to send a death certificate reflecting he died in NJ and was domiciled in NJ, together with letters testamentary to the bank. As the one account was owned with his girlfriend, it will be subject to NJ Inheritance Tax (she is a Class D beneficiary) unless the sister can show NJ that all the funds in the account were those of her deceased brother.

Another tedious and uncertain approach is to work your way up the bank’s legal department and if necessary threaten and then follow through if necessary with a complaint to the banking commission. If they are national and have a NJ branch you could try sending the request to the NJ branch and work your way up from there.

But remember this, the accounts are not in the estate so the executor has no authority over them. Consult Florida counsel whether the banks can be forced to provide balances short of an NJ judgement given full faith and credit.

To discuss your NJ Estate & Probate matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.

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Emoluments suit against Trump clears standing and political question hurdles

Constitutional Law

The Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C./

A federal judge in Maryland has ruled that Maryland and Washington, D.C., have standing to pursue a narrowed claim in their lawsuit contending that President Donald Trump is violating the Constitution’s foreign and domestic emoluments clauses by accepting payments from foreign governments and states through his business empire.

U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte ruled on Wednesday that the jurisdictions had standing, and the political question doctrine is not a bar to the court taking action. The Washington Post, the National Law Journal, BuzzFeed News and the New York Times covered the decision.

Messitte limited the suit to a claim that the clauses were violated when the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., accepted business from foreign and state governments.

In December, a federal judge in Manhattan tossed a different emoluments suit brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a restaurant industry group. In that case, U.S. District Judge George Daniels ruled that Congress, not the courts, should decide whether Trump is violating the Constitution by failing to divest his business holdings.

The foreign emoluments clause states that, absent congressional consent, no one holding any office of profit or trust shall “accept of any present, emolument, office or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince or foreign state.”

The domestic emoluments clause, also known as the presidential compensation clause, says the president shall receive compensation for his services, “which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.”

According to Messitte, many residents of Maryland and Washington, D.C., are affected when foreign and state governments choose to stay or dine at the Trump hotel in those jurisdictions and they “are, quite plausibly, trying to protect a large segment of their commercial residents and hospitality industry employees from economic harm,” he said.

He also noted that the two jurisdictions have buildings and land interests that directly compete with the hotel.

Messitte said his ruling restricting the suit to claims regarding the Washington, D.C., hotel is limited to the particular plaintiffs and the particular facts of the case.

“This is in no way meant to say that other states or other businesses or individuals immediately affected by the same sort of violations alleged in the case at bar, e.g., a major hotel competitor in Palm Beach (near Mar-a-Lago) or indeed a hotel anywhere in the state of Florida, might not have standing to pursue litigation similar to that which is in process here,” he wrote.

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Ex-Trump lawyer Dowd reportedly spoke about possible pardons for Manafort and Flynn

Executive Branch

John Dowd.

John Dowd, a lawyer for President Donald Trump who resigned last week, reportedly spoke about the possibility of pardons with lawyers for Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn before their indictments.

The New York Times has a a story based on three people who had knowledge of the discussions. Flynn was Trump’s former national security adviser, and Manafort was Trump’s former campaign chairman.

The pardon discussions raise questions about whether Dowd was offering the pardons to influence the former aides’ decisions to plead guilty and cooperate, according to the article.

It’s unknown whether Dowd discussed pardons with Trump before raising the idea with the defense lawyers, according to the article. However, some current and former administration officials have reportedly told the special counsel’s office about their pardon discussions with the president, the article says.

Dowd denied discussing pardons with the defense lawyers. “There were no discussions. Period,” Dowd said. “As far as I know, no discussions.”

Dowd reportedly discussed pardons with Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, while a grand jury was hearing evidence. Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI on Dec. 1 and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel’s office.

Dowd reportedly spoke with Manafort’s then-lawyer, Reginald Brown, before Manafort’s October indictment on money laundering and conspiracy charges. Manafort has told others he isn’t interested in a pardon because he isn’t guilty. He is accused in connection with his work for a former Ukrainian president.

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How would you amend the Constitution?

Question of the Week


This week, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens suggested that students and others who participated in last Saturday’s March for Our Lives rallies should demand more than just gun-control legislation—they should demand that the Second Amendment be repealed.

Overturning 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment “would be simple and would do more to weaken the NRA’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option,” Stevens said in a New York Times op-ed.

This isn’t the first time Stevens has put forward revising the Constitution. In 2012, he proposed the supremacy clause be rewritten to make clear that the federal government can use state officials to carry out national policies.

This week, we’d like to ask you: How would you amend the Constitution?

Answer in the comments.

Read the answers to last week’s question: What are your funniest and weirdest stories from the courtroom?

Featured answer:

Posted by GLS: “I represented a plaintiff in an auto accident case. After the attorney for the defendant gave his closing argument accusing the plaintiff of lying, malingering, etc. she stood up and yelled that she said didn’t want their money and forget the whole thing!”

Do you have an idea for a question of the week? If so, contact us.

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Which law schools have the highest median LSAT scores?

Law Schools

Harvard and Yale are tied for the No. 1 spot on a list of law schools with the highest median LSAT scores.

Both schools a median score of 173 for full-time law students entering in the fall of 2017, U.S. News & World Report reports on its Short List blog.

Harvard is ranked third in the overall law school rankings released last month by U.S. News, while Yale is No. 1 overall.

The top 12 law schools for median LSAT scores are:

  • Harvard and Yale (tied for first with a median score of 173)
  • Columbia and Stanford (tied for third with a median score of 171)
  • University of Chicago (fifth with a median score of 170)
  • Duke, New York University, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia (tied for sixth with a median score of 169)
  • Northwestern and Washington University in St. Louis (tied for 11th, with a median score of 168)

The average median LSAT score was 156 across all 185 ranked law schools that submitted data to U.S. News. Among these schools, the school with the lowest LSAT ranking was the Appalachian School of Law in Virginia, with a median LSAT of 143.

Hat tip to Above the Law, which points out that Washington University in St. Louis was tied for 11th on the LSAT list, but ranked 18th overall by U.S. News.

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