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Second marriages require careful estate planning

Florida has a large population of older residents, and remains a destination for individuals who have retired from lucrative professions. A significant number of these people either have a spouse who has died or have been divorced, and are contemplating getting married again.

Often, these individuals have children from their first marriage who may not be entirely pleased that another person is stepping into a familial role. Sometimes, especially if there is a large amount of money at stake, they can assume that the new spouse is a threat to their own inheritance. Unfortunately, even if estate documents are clearly written and legally executed, this can lead to probate litigation in which the children challenge the will because they allege undue influence or diminished mental capacity.

If one does wish to change a previously written will, for whatever reason, it is important that the changes be made correctly so that the new bequests will be valid in the state in which the will is probated, and the assets are distributed accordingly. Because wills can be contested after the testator's death, an experienced estate planning and probate lawyer can be instrumental in making sure the intent of the testator are carried out.

Though the subject can be a touchy one, it is important that new spouses discuss potential estate issues so that each understands where they stand. This is especially true if one spouse comes into the marriage with significantly fewer assets that the other. Making the intentions of the asset holder known throughout the family may not be comfortable, but it can help to head off the time and expense of probate litigation that is unnecessary.

Source:, "Legal Advice for Trophy Wives, Stepchildren and Other Sarasota Family Issues," March 1, 2014

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