What to do when a late-in-life marriage disinherits your family

When your family, specifically your parents, have substantial assets, it’s common to assume you will inherit some of what is left when your parents die. Unfortunately, it’s relatively common for opportunistic people to prey on lonely older adults.

Sometimes called spring/autumn marriages, these arrangements often involve a new spouse much younger than your parent. As a child, it can be difficult to see someone taking advantage of your parent for the sole purpose of enjoying the assets your parent spent a lifetime acquiring. To add insult to injury, this young spouse may be pushing for a new will.

Over time, your parent may be pressured into changing the last will or estate plan that included you and your siblings in favor of this new spouse. It’s not uncommon for these changes to happen when someone is sick or mentally compromised. Your parent could rely on this younger, new spouse for most of his or her necessary medical care. There could be a lot of pressure to alter the will, even if your parent has declining mental faculties. If your parent’s will was altered to include a new spouse at the expense of everyone else in the family, you need to hire an experienced probate attorney.

You and your siblings can contest a will that leaves you out

If your parent previously made promises about the estate but later changed the estate plan or last will to the benefit of a new spouse, you may have legal grounds to contest the will. Additionally, if you believe that the last will was altered under duress or extreme pressure, or after your parent was mentally compromised by age or medication, you will have solid grounds for contesting a last will. While you don’t want the estate stuck in probate for months, it may be necessary.

A last will that was changed in favor of a single person may be altered or changed by the probate courts to make things more fair and reasonable. While every circumstance is different, many different courts have experience working with new spouses who are only interested in becoming heirs to someone with acquired wealth at the end of his or her life. You and your siblings should speak with an estate and probate attorney as soon as you know that the last will has been changed. Many times, you won’t know about this issue until after your parent passes away.

An attorney can help you and your siblings push back against a manipulative new spouse who stands to inherit all of your familial assets. Probate court may be the best solution to your issues. The sooner you speak with an attorney who understands Ohio probate law, the better your chances of a positive outcome.

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