Defending Claims Against You as Executor or Administrator of an Estate, or Trustee of a Trust

Trustees, personal representatives, administrators, and executors have a tough job. They are subject to constant questions, demands, and threats from unhappy beneficiaries. Even decisions that are in the best interests of the trust or estate are called into question by those who do not understand why the decisions were made.

Relatives want to overturn the will; beneficiaries think the financial accounting is too slow in the making or lacks enough details; they want you to pursue a gift made by the decedent prior to death that the beneficiary thinks shouldn’t have been made. They have questions surrounding the creation of beneficiary designations and “pay on death accounts” and their demands appear irreconcilable. Sometimes a disinherited spouse or ex-spouse shows up or the deceased’s business partner demands the estate be settled to continue the profitable operation of the ongoing business.

You need guidance and an experienced, steady hand to lead your decisions.  That’s where Hanlon Niemann & Wright comes in. 

We are experienced Estate attorneys with a strong litigation background. We focus early on dispute resolution which allows us to better understand the claims and motives of all sides so that we can assist in avoiding contentious and protracted fights and litigation while remaining on the cutting edge of the law in the field of estate, probate and trust disputes. 

Because of our significant elder law, estate, and probate practice, executors, trustees and other lawyers in NJ call upon us for assistance to help resolve their estate issues. 

When dissatisfied beneficiaries, creditors, etc., make demands and/or file claims against you as an executor, administrator, or trustee, Fredrick P Niemann Esq., and Hanlon Niemann & Wright are ready to stand up for you. We represent clients throughout the state of New Jersey advocating on behalf of our fiduciary clients. 


I was lucky enough to have Mr. Niemann handle my affairs. He was so professional and compassionate during a very difficult time for me. My total experience was great.

– Arti Sinha, Marlboro, NJ


I found the members of the law firm of Hanlon Niemann to be friendly, professional, cost effective, prompt and creative.  In short, I felt that I was in “good hands”.

– Daniel & Florence Donigian, Oakland, NJ


Whenever you use an accounting firm, or as in this case, a law firm, you expect technical excellence in the work they do.  Hanlon Niemann & Wright delivers this.  But to really exceed your expectations, a professional service firm must wrap a broader service experience around the work they do, and the key elements of this experience are empathy, friendliness and an understanding of the client’s needs.  This is where Hanlon Niemann & Wright truly exceed.

– Anthony Pisano, Freehold, NJ

Addressing the Issues that Confront a Fiduciary of an Estate

Fiduciary Defense Attorneys

Trustees, executors, guardians and powers of attorney benefit from our litigation background but also from our extensive estate planning practice drafting wills, trusts, and estate plans. To litigate a case, you need to be grounded in the real world of Estate Planning documents. Let’s use an analogy. Can you really be a lifeguard if you don’t know how to swim?

When you face claims related to breach of fiduciary duty, breach of duty of loyalty, allegations of fraud or other issue(s), we can serve as the trusted advisor and powerful advocate you need to help you navigate the probate process in New Jersey.

Contact Fredrick P Niemann Esq., of Hanlon Niemann & Wright today to understand all your defense options. You can reach out to me toll-free at  (855) 376-5291 or email me at .

Defending Against Allegations of Executor Wrongdoing

Time and time again, we see beneficiaries and others accuse Executors of wrongdoing with no basis, in fact, whatsoever. Executors are wrongfully accused of misappropriating funds of the estate, overspending on expenses, selling estate property too slowly and/or at too low a price; and the list of complaints goes on. In our experience, many of these claims lack merit. What beneficiaries think is the unlawful or inappropriate action(s) of the Executor or Estate Administrator are often allowed under New Jersey laws. In such situations, we work with the executors to make clear to all concerned not only the law but the reality of estate probate. We attempt to resolve all misunderstandings.

Unfortunately, when an executor or estate fiduciary is accused of stealing, they must present an accounting to the court.  An accounting is a highly regulated process that requires having the estate list all assets of the estate, disclose all expenses, and disclose all income and supporting documentation down to the penny. What usually happens then is that the attorney for the beneficiary presents demands for documents to dispute the accounting. An estate accounting can consist of many detailed pages. If not satisfied by the disclosure(s), the attorney for the beneficiaries will file a list of exceptions about the accounting (also known as “Interrogatories”), and can then take conduct an examination of the executor under oath together with witnesses and other relevant parties. 

An estate accounting is not cheap. You’ll need the assistance of an estate attorney and either a CPA or a forensic accountant who has experience with estate accounting(s). Because the estate must pay for all of this, the result is less money for the beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are of course not happy about this added expense (which expense they themself have caused), but that’s the reality.

After the accounting and all the supporting documentation and information are disclosed, it is then up to the complaining parties involved to determine if they want to proceed to trial before a probate judge who will make a final decision for or against the accounting.

If you are an executor or estate representative who is accused of misfeasance, malfeasance, or dereliction of duty you can contact Fredrick P Niemann Esq., of Hanlon Niemann & Wright today. Reach out to Fred toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at

Defending The Continued Service of the Executor, Administrator/Trustee

Beneficiaries of trusts & estates often have a “personal” issue with the Estate Representative. They want him or her removed. They make all kinds of accusations and challenge the qualifications of the Executor including that the Executor cannot be trusted. The law favors the continued service of the lawfully designated estate representative because they were personally selected by the decedent and/or trust creator. A judge will not disqualify a person from appointment absent a serious breach of conduct or a real threat to the welfare of the estate. 

If you are being intimidated and threatened by an Estate or Trust beneficiary, call me today. I’ll put your mind at ease. We’ll go over the facts together and analyze the real motives behind the accusations. You can reach me toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email me at 

Defending the Executor in the Transfer of a Business or Business Sale

An Executor assumes control over the ownership interest of a decedent’s business or business interest until it is transferred to the designated beneficiary pursuant to a written shareholder, partnership, or LLC member operating agreement. During this time significant financial and operating decisions fall to the Executor to maintain profitability and structure. The beneficiaries however just want their payout. We work closely with the executor/trustee to ensure that the business survives coherently until the time comes when control and ownership are diverted. We’re practical and business-friendly in our approach. Since we represent businesses, shareholders, partners, and LLC’s we are familiar with succession planning agreements including; buy-sell agreements, etc. Put our strong business experience to work with you as the Executor in charge (EIC) of the decedent’s business affairs. 

Defend Claims By Creditors and Others Against the Estate

After a person dies, all kinds of people and entities make claims against the estate. The most common claimants are creditors, as well as those parties I have discussed previously, including; business partners, life partners, ex-spouses, the IRS, and Medicaid. Many times, the claimants cannot prove their allegations but even if they can, they are often overstated monetarily. We’ll evaluate the claims of creditors, Medicaid, the IRS and others who file lawsuits or liens for payment. Legitimate debts and liabilities can and must be paid. In fact, as the executor, administrator, or trustee, you can be held personally liable if you disburse funds without first taking reasonable efforts to search out known or likely creditors and priority statutory lien holders. Don’t go it alone; reach out to me today.  

Finalize And Close Out the Estates

If you are the executor or administrator of an estate or trustee of a NJ trust under attack by beneficiaries and need to protect yourself from the claims of beneficiaries and/or others, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. today, toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at You’ll find him to be very knowledgeable in estate administration and probate disputes.  He is especially easy to talk to.  Our offices are conveniently located on Route 9 in Freehold, NJ.


Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Will Contest Probate Litigation Attorney