Death, Divorce, Second Marriages, Stepchildren, and Blended Families
Serving Clients in Dayton, Cincinnati and Throughout Central and Southern Ohio
At Craig T. Matthews & Associates, LPA, we see this situation arise all too often.
The death of a spouse is commonly followed with a second marriage by the widow or widower, regardless of how the children of the first marriage may feel about the matter. The second marriage can result in additional children. This is the “blended family.” Stepmothers, stepfathers, half brothers, half sisters, stepbrothers and stepsisters: all have been getting to know each other for time immemorial. And the rising divorce rate in modern society is increasing the number of blended families.
Blended families can present unique estate planning goals, and create unique opportunities for the disruption of those goals. Here is an example. A well to do mom and dad are happily married and have three beautiful girls. Then mom dies, and her considerable estate is inherited by dad. The grieving dad tells his girls, “I am setting aside the money that belonged to mom. I may need it when I get older, but I hope not to. And when I die, I want the three of you to have it.” Fast forward thirty years. Dad has married stepmother, who was considerably younger. And dad and stepmother had a son together. Son is much younger than his three half-sisters, who have since married and had their own families. When dad dies, the daughters are shocked to discover that mom’s inheritance is no longer to be found. To their dismay, they discover that in dad’s later years, stepmother somehow convinced a frail, failing husband to add her name on the inheritance account. Or perhaps stepmother persuaded dad to “gift” large sums to son, who never was very good with jobs or finances.
Fortunately legal remedies may be available to the daughters. If stepmother exercised undue influence over dad at a time when dad was susceptible to such influence, or if dad was not competent at the time, then the transfers to stepmother could be set aside under claims of undue influence or lack of capacity. And if stepmother attempts to probate dad’s estate, the daughters could move the probate court to remove the stepmother as the estate representative on the basis that the dad’s estate has a claim against stepmother, and that it would therefore be a conflict of interest for stepmother to act in a representative capacity for the estate.
Family emotions run deep, and blended families are no exception. Emotions can result in aggressively defended litigation, with the attendant costs and delays. An experienced elder fraud litigator is needed to obtain and analyze financial and medical records, and present the evidence to the judge or jury in such a manner that the true story is revealed.
If you or a loved one have questions regarding wills, estate planning or inheritance disputes, call Attorney Craig T. Matthews or visit our Cincinnati or Dayton Ohio offices to make sure your rights are protected.
Contact an Experienced Dayton and Cincinnati Ohio Elder Financial Abuse Litigation Lawyer
Our office hours in Dayton are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call us at 937-434-9393 or use our convenient email contact form to arrange an initial consultation and evaluation of your case. For our Cincinnati office, please call 513-512-4074 to schedule an appointment.