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Steps to Take to Avoid Estate Disputes When You Remarry

Monday, 28 April 2008

In this day and age, Colorado Springs family relationships have become much more complicated due to the ever-increasing number of remarriages and blended families. Estate Disputes that arise have Second Marriages at the top of the list as a cause for this type of family law conflict. Even if that spouse has been married to the deceased for many, many years, there is an inherent friction between the new spouse and the first family. People from Colorado must plan carefully for what you can to do to provide for that second spouse, and yet provide for your children and grandchildren.

Baby boomers are seeing more family infighting over the money and possessions that their loved ones left behind. They are quarreling, not so much for the money, but to protect what they believe were the wishes of their parent. Common scenarios: “Father would never have wanted a Will like the one that my stepmother is trying to put forward. He must have been unduly influenced, or he lacked mental capacity." On the other hand, the party who is holding up the Will believes “Of course this is what your Father wanted.” So one can see how estate battles are justified and rationalized by both parties.

A skilled Colorado-based attorney can help families resolve estate disputes once they arise in the least destructive way possible. And the best thing is to keep these disputes from arising at all. Working with an attorney and instituting a good planning can head them off before your death, or the loss of a parent or loved one.

Here are some tips and steps you can take to allow you as the Will maker to rest in peace: 

  • Communication and clarity when drafting a Will and with all family members is key to avoiding estate disputes. Many disputes can be avoided when the Will maker's intent is clear to all heirs. Some family situations are more volatile than others.

  • Consider videotaping the Will execution as a means to avoiding competency challenges

  • If you are just about to remarry, get a premarital agreement

  • Consider appointing a neutral party for your Power of Attorney. The children may feel it is unfair if one party is favored over another. They may feel this individual is trying to take advantage of their parent. A person who holds that Power does have accounting obligations. If all parties don’t agree with the decisions made, bad feelings can arise, which might result in a guardianship application.

  • Wills tend to be contested when a single family member receives substantially more, or substantially less, than other family members of equal standing. In cases where an unequal distribution is necessary or desired by the will maker, such as a child caring for a sickly parent, open communication is encouraged as to why the assets are being spread unequally.

  • Think about setting up Trusts. You may consider putting the money and assets in a trust during the lifetime of that second spouse. The spouse earns the income from the trust but does not receive the seed money. Upon the spouse’s death, the trust will be distributed among the children

  • Inform your executors about what they should do to avoid getting themselves in an estate dispute. Oftentimes disputes can arise, not from the Will or challenging the Will, but from what the executor does to administer the Will.

"I see how everything that was set up worked just the way my dad wanted it," said a Colorado Springs based son, who did not wish to disclose his name. If the provisions are properly drafted, and effective communication has taken place among your family members, then hopefully you are not going to have any disputes. A good attorney is crucial in making sure this process goes smoothly for all concerned.

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MPatMarrisonFor over a quarter century, we have helped people during what is often the darkest time in their lives. Divorce is not easy even under the best of circumstances. For most people, family is central. Having something go wrong in the family can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the home and into other areas.

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