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Does being a stepmom mean probate could get heated?

Now that more people, including many here in Georgia, are divorcing and remarrying later in life, some people only get a short time with their new loves. In many cases, the woman survives her new husband since women still tend to live longer than men do. When it comes to settling a deceased husband's estate, simply being a stepmother may increase the likelihood of probate becoming heated.

Most stepmothers are not greedy, but their stepchildren may believe otherwise since their fathers probably took the time to provide for their new wives. Children may question any provisions made in their father's estate plans or that the widow decided to pursue her elective share of the estate because her husband did not have time to change his estate plan before passing away. Either of these steps can easily lead a deceased man's children to challenge the will or attempt to fight their stepmother's pursuit of her share.

The problem often stems from adult children not developing a close relationship with the "new wife." They may resent a new woman coming into their father's life at such an advanced age. They may think that she coerced or unduly influenced their father into changing his estate plans. In some cases, this may be true, but in many cases, it is not. Regardless, the probate proceedings could quickly become contentious.

The accusations that many stepmothers face are based on the stereotypical vision of them. Where it is true that some stepmothers do take advantage of their situation, most do not and have just lost the man they love. Getting through the probate process does not have to be contentious. It may be possible to work out a settlement with the help of a Georgia attorney.

Source: Forbes, "Stepmothers: The Cause Of So Many Estate Fights", Michael Hackard, Jan. 23, 2018

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