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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

How to prevent probate spat between second wife and grown child

In Saint Paul, Minnesota, and around the country, more people have to draft estate plans that account for more than one marriage. Oftentimes, a person who is making their final plans will want to leave something both for a current spouse and adult children from any prior relationship.

On other occasions, however, a person may not want to leave anything to an adult child, instead giving that portion of inheritance to a new spouse or to other heirs and beneficiaries. When this happens, a probate dispute can result once the disinherited child discovers that they will receive nothing. Of course, this scenario works the other way as well; a second spouse may not appreciate being cut out of an inheritance in favor of grown children from a previous relationship.

In this situation, careful estate planning is paramount. A careful estate plan witnessed by people who have no stake in the outcome will better ensure that the plan will not be susceptible to a challenge in court.

Unfortunately, however, even when every precaution is taken in an estate plan, sometimes a probate dispute will occur anyway. It unfortunately can be relatively common for a dispute to break out between a current spouse and a person's adult children after that person's death. When this happens, it may be important to get more information in order to understand concepts like undue influence and other potential legal challenges to a will. Doing so can prepare family members for what to expect in a probate dispute, no matter how the problem arises.

Source: Napa Valley Register, "Can estranged son contest will?" Len Tillem and Rosie McNichol, Jan. 2, 2014

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