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  • Second marriages not only unite new spouses, they also provide the opportunity to expand families. While blended families are becoming exceedingly common, they also pose unique problems. One problem that our firm sees often involves second marriage inheritance issues. For many, failing to codify what is fair in a second marriage and estate planning can lead to trouble later on.

    Second Marriage Inheritance Issues

    Photo of a couple Separated by the Cliffs of Divorce

    When two families unite, the question of inheritance becomes more complex. This is because marriage not only unites partners emotionally but financially as well. Children from a previous marriage can make devising an estate plan complicated. Without taking special precautions, a host of unwanted consequences may befall your family.

    For example, it is quite easy to accidentally disinherit children in blended families. When one spouse dies, the other will receive all or a large portion of their estate. If this spouse remarries, there is a chance that the entire estate will pass on to the new spouse. This could erase the inheritance of the deceased spouse’s children.

    Another example would be when one spouse of a blended family dies. This leaves decisions about the estate to the surviving spouse. That spouse could then leave the entire estate to his/her own biological children. Alternatively, this person could unfairly or disproportionately distribute the estate to the benefit of his/her biological children.

    Disinheritance or an unfair inheritance can inflict financial and emotional tolls on the people affected. Many blended families end up disputing their parents’ estate plans and feuding amongst themselves.

    Second Marriage Estate Planning

    These second marriage inheritance issues often arise when parents do not take necessary precautions. Failing to draft a will or trust at all almost ensures that a blended family will face trust litigation. However, even people who  carefully prepare estate planning documents must be precise about their wishes. Meticulous planning is necessary for protecting your beneficiaries, and ensuring that your true intent is refleted in your estate planning documents.

    Trust Litigation

    One of the best options for blended families is drafting a trust. However, when things do not go as planned, many pursue trust litigation. Here are the grounds in which many families contest the validity of a trust in court:

    • Undue Influence. In this situation, the court will either rule that the trust is valid or that it was the result of outside pressures. If someone prompts the trustor to design or change their trust against their better judgement, the trust is invalid.
    • Soundness of Mind. The court also hears arguments about the mental standing of the trustor. The creation or amendment of a trust is invalid if the trustor was not mentally capable of understanding their actions.
    • Defective Trust. A trust can also be invalid if it does not meet the requirements of the California Probate Code.

    Further, beneficiaries and would-be beneficiaries have the right to know where the estate is going. If this information is being hidden from you, trust litigation could be the remedy you need.

    Contact Our Trust Litigation Lawyer in Pasadena

    The best way to counteract second marriage inheritance issues is to take a preventative stance. However, blended families can complicate things and render preventive measures ineffective. When this happens, the likelihood that a family will seek litigation is much higher. Unfortunately, this also means that tensions will run high, and family members may become hostile.

    If you are in this situation, speak with our Pasadena trust litigation attorney for help. We do our best to help families overcome their legal disputes. For a free consultation, call Greg Aslanian at (626) 345-7210 or leave us a message through our online contact form.

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