Many disputed estate cases involve differences between stepparents and stepchildren.
Whether the case involves a will, trust, or other end-of-life matters, the interests and motives of stepparents and stepchildren may be very different.
So, who is right? Unfortunately, the typical legal response applies: “It depends.”
IS THERE A WILL?
Mom or Dad may have a will that left assets to their spouse, children, or both. However, if the parent was under duress or lacked capacity (dementia, for example) the Will may not be valid and it could be challenged.
If the parent and recent spouse held assets in joint tenancy, these assets will belong to the spouse.
If there no Will, the spouse may receive a share that includes much of the estate. How property is titled may also provide the spouse with a life estate or the right to live in the marital home until death before it is transferred to the children.
Obviously, probate issues can be complicated. They can also be simple.
In either case, consulting an attorney early in the process may resolve problems, avoid the expense of extended legal fighting and prevent accidental or intentional illegal activity.
A probate attorney can help you determine your rights, the value of the estate and help you make an informed decision. The attorney can help evaluate the size of the estate, the cost of probate (or an alternative) and help you determine what, if any, legal action should be taken.
For small estates, there may be an alternative that will make financial sense. On the other hand, if legal action is necessary to protect your interest, it is better to know your rights as soon as possible and to be well informed.
We know probate law and we can assist your family. If you would like to speak with someone about your specific facts, please give us a call. We can help. If you need help, just text or call for a free consultation