Our Leadership

John O. McManus

Founding Principal

John O. McManus received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and philosophy from Fordham University where he was awarded membership in phi sigma alpha for excellence in his major field of study and received his Juris Doctor from Fordham University School of Law. He practiced law for five years with the Wall Street law firm of Dewey Ballantine and with the national law firm of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, with a concentration on estate planning and real estate transactions. In 1991, he formed his own firm representing individuals and families around the country and the globe who, through diligence and commitment, have achieved success in many aspects of their lives. Mr. McManus participated in several estate planning and bar associations including a board membership on the Northern New Jersey Estate Planning Council where he recently completed his term as President of the Council. John also served on the Committee on Estates, Trusts and Surrogate’s Courts of the Bar Association of the City of New York and the Committee on Real Property, Probate and Trusts of the American Bar Association. Furthermore, Mr. McManus is a member of the prestigious Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and the European American Chamber of Commerce in New York. After 10 years of receiving Martindale Hubbell’s highest rating (AV) as a practicing attorney, he was named to the National Bar of Preeminent Lawyers. Mr. McManus was also named by Avenue Magazine as one of the top trusts and estates attorneys in the New York City area. He is regularly invited by financial institutions and accountants to speak on current estate planning topics and continuing education requirements within the estate planning industry and is regularly quoted in such well-known publications as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes and Trusts & Estates magazine. Mr. McManus is admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. John is also actively involved in his community as the Chairman of the St. James Church Financial Advisory Committee overseeing 3,000 families within the parish, as Vice Chairman of the Board of the Somerset County YMCA whose facility is recognized as one of the largest and most successful in the nation, as a member of the Advisory Board of the Sisters of Christian Charity, and through his support of The Pingry School Parents Association, supporting the school his children currently attend. Some of John’s personal interests include mountain biking and RV travel through the National Parks.

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Benjamin Carthew

Head of Private Client Group

Benjamin Carthew received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History, while also undertaking a minor concentration in Politics from the University of Virginia and received his Master of Arts degree in History from the City College of New York. Completing his twelfth year with the firm, Mr. Carthew is actively involved in all aspects of wealth transfer, tax planning and philanthropy. As a leader in our Estate Planning Practice Group, he has been particularly dedicated to developing our peer-acclaimed documents and the most intricate strategies to help ensure the most efficient transfer of wealth between our clients and their loved ones. Ben enjoys conveying sophisticated techniques to our successful clientele and is not only committed to imparting to them a comprehension of critical planning, but is also driven by his desire to ensure that their most profound and dearly held wishes are satisfied. He is a fervent believer in the importance of ongoing education in our ever-changing industry. As a result, he has spearheaded efforts to enhance our practice and stay ahead of our competition through the research of the latest progress in the field and participation in seminars, including the prestigious Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning. When away from the office, Ben is devoted to his other passion, historical enrichment, and recently completed his Master’s thesis, a comprehensive study and analysis of Manhattan’s early twentieth century environment as a part of the larger processes of urbanization in American cities during this period. He also enjoys performing genealogical research, cooking, fishing, and all things sports, especially Green Bay Packers football.

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Elizabeth Fojtu

Head of the Estate Administration Practice Group

Elizabeth Fojtu received her Bachelor of Arts degree in international business and Russian language from Lafayette College where she graduated cum laude and she received her Master of Science of Law (J.S.M.) in International Tax and Financial Services from Thomas Jefferson School of Law where she graduated summa cum laude. She is a regular contributing editor to the Foreign Tax and Trade Briefs published by Matthew Bender for LexisNexis and has published in Tax Talk, the journal of the South African Institute of Tax Practitioners. Before her entry into the legal field, Elizabeth was a special features writer and research manager for the Los Angeles Times in Moscow, Russia and a regular contributing writer for The Prague Post and Eastern Europe Report in the Czech Republic and Washington, D.C., respectively. She has been with the firm for nearly fifteen years, focusing entirely on Trusts and Estate law. Elizabeth heads the Estate Administration Practice Group at our firm, providing trust advisory services and administering complex estates. Ms. Fojtu assists our clients in the process of navigating the surrogates’ courts, marshaling estate assets, preparation of the required Federal and State estate tax returns, distribution of assets to the designated beneficiaries, and the funding and management of testamentary trusts. In addition to sophisticated pre-mortem and post-mortem planning, she provides elegant tax planning solutions and savings in the most trying times for families. Additionally, she is very focused and actively involved in estate planning – drafting, reviewing, and overseeing the final execution of our estate planning documents with clients. One of her greatest professional rewards comes from explaining complex legal jargon to our clients in a simple and understandable fashion. Her keen empathy for our clients’ needs to nurture and protect their families comes from her personal experience being a mother of four who homeschooled her children for many years.

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Maureen Debrot

Head of Income Tax Practice Group

Maureen Debrot graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Scranton and was inducted into the Alpha Sigma Nu honor society. She began her professional career at PricewaterhouseCoopers as a Certified Public Accountant, and then entered private business as a corporate manager and financial analyst. Maureen combined her business experience and passion for education to help establish a Montessori religious education program at her church, and to organize a nonprofit educational cooperative in her local community. She then took a position as business manager for a private academy where she successfully obtained funds from foundations and governmental sources for new curriculum materials, facility renovations and upgrades in technology.

At our firm, Ms. Debrot provides analytical support for the Estate Administrative Practice Group, as well as ensures the most advantageous execution of our client’s Wills and Trusts by assisting them with the appropriate titling of assets and beneficiary designations. Her strong ability to organize and establish streamline processes has led to the establishment of our new tax department which she heads. This initiative will help us to provide our clients with services that are integral to their estate planning and administration needs.

Ms. Debrot is a wife and a mother of four daughters. She is currently involved with a local nonprofit swim team organization helping to secure grants and donations for a new state of the art pool facility.

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Carol Molnar

Head of Research and International Tax Reporting

Carol Molnar received her Juris Doctor degree, with honors, from Seton Hall University School of Law where she was a member of the Law Review, and received two degrees from Pace University, including her Master of Business Administration, graduating with honors, and her Bachelor of Business Administration, graduating magna cum laude. She is admitted to practice law in New Jersey, New York, and before the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Molnar was previously associated with Citibank Private Banking and served on the Board of Directors of Citicorp Trust N.A., Florida and California. Her work as a Master Tax Adviser includes personalized tax preparation and planning for sophisticated individuals and fiduciaries, as well as negotiating with the IRS and state taxing authorities. At our firm, Carol is responsible for overseeing all Gift tax, Generation Skipping tax, and Foundation returns for our clients within the Income Tax Practice Group and provides legal support for the Estate Administration Practice Group and the Wealth Transfer and Asset Protection Practice Group.

Carol has deep roots in her community and is a third generation Westfield resident, raising two successful adult daughters. She was awarded the Faith in Westfield Award by the Westfield Chamber of Commerce for recognition of her volunteer service and leadership in her community. Her involvement in the community has included serving on the Westfield Planning Board; Westfield Main Street; Friends of Mindowaskin Park; the Westfield Symphony Board; and the Dr. Martin Luther King Association; currently, she is the Chair of the New Jersey Capital Planning Commission which provides capital recommendations to the Governor and Legislature for the New Jersey Annual State Budget.

Carol travels throughout the United States collecting vintage Christmas decorations and crèches.

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Rocco Seminerio

Head of the Estate Planning Practice Group

Rocco Seminerio received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy with a minor concentration in History, Magna Cum Laude, from Seton Hall University and his Juris Doctorate from Seton Hall University School of Law where he concentrated his studies in Health Law. Entering his 5th year with McManus & Associates, Mr. Seminerio is the Head of the Estate Planning Practice Group within the Wealth Transfer Division.

Mr. Seminerio oversees all aspects of estate planning, utilizing highly sophisticated planning strategies to serve the firm’s discerning international and domestic clientele, regularly advising them on a wide variety of multi-generational tax planning vehicles including domestic asset protection trusts and Medicaid trusts.

In order to enhance the value provided to firm clientele and to continue its thought leadership in the region, Mr. Seminerio participates in firm research projects to establish new planning strategies including engaging in the prestigious Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning.

In his personal time, Mr. Seminerio is dedicated to the study of acoustics, home audio and video and the full renovation of his new residence.

Mr. Seminerio is admitted to both the New Jersey and Florida bars, and awaits admission into the New York bar.

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