I thought the process was obvious, but I guess I didn’t explain it well. Let me try from the other side.

Let’s say that your name is John. Your wife Christine just died and left no will. Being that she was a widow, you were her second husband, and she had bank accounts in solely her name from a previous marriage, (including the retirement funds from her previous late husband).

The bank just told you that all you need is identification, a death certificate, and your marriage license, and they will cut you a check from the retirement account that Christine once shared with her husband.

The problem is that Christine’s adult children produce a will from before you married her, and this will says that THEY are the ones who will receive her remaining property. In this case, Florida law says that the surviving spouse gets 1/3 of Christine’s estate before the will is taken into account. Since it is assumed that the surviving spouse gets everything, the surviving children will have to hire a lawyer and go to court in order to enforce this will. In order to fight it, you will have to hire a lawyer as well. By the time all is said and done, the lawyers in the case will cost between 1/3 and 1/2 of the total inheritance. Everyone except the lawyers loses.

The children come to you with an offer: If you agree to take half of the estate, that is still more than what you would get after the court battle. Win for you.

That’s the idea, anyhow.

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Rick · December 24, 2023 at 9:46 am

Adding another possible wrinkle into this mess. If the married couple decided to “join” their assets (your Mom closing the account and moving it to where ever) to make everything “jointly owned”, would her children have any say in that situation or any claim to the assets after one spouse dies?

    Divemedic · December 24, 2023 at 9:55 am

    That isn’t the case here, but that would be one for the lawyers to figure out.

It's just Boris · December 24, 2023 at 9:55 am

So you think you will need to go to court to enforce the will as written, less the third for the surviving spouse; and that that expense will eat much of the estate in the first place. Got it.

That said … who is serving as the executor of the estate? Might not that be the place to start re disposition of property according to the will? (Keeping in mind that executors are generally bound to follow the law and the wishes as expressed in the will; and therefore could reject a 50-50 split as not in accordance with, even if all parties agree. At least that could be a result in PA.)

Rick · December 24, 2023 at 9:57 am

Sorry – hit the button early:

“any claim to the assets after “Mom” dies?

I would think that melding the accounts muddies things up so much that there is no way to determine what percentage of the new account belongs to which person. A husband & wife could decide to spend their money on “anything” and after it is spent, it is gone (taking a huge vacation, buying the daughter a car, paying her an allotment, setting up a trust for the husband’s heirs, etc.). How a husband/wife decide to spend their money is totally between them and none of the children have any say in it. Unfortunately, you may be looking at an empty cookie jar.

SoCoRuss · December 24, 2023 at 1:25 pm

Feel your pain. Went thru something like this with my parents deaths, they had no wills. Then a little more from wife’s parents who had wills and trusts but they weren’t truly up to date. So we learned a BIG life lesson. Now my son is retiring from military and going thru a very nasty divorce. Once that’s done , my wife and I have to go into our wills and ALL other financial setups to make changes to Ex-wife proof them. Not as easy as I first thought it would be by the way. Grandkids are all minors so if we and son die before adult age, money goes to them and the Hawaiian cunt would have financial control as now setup and the money would be going to her party lifestyle. Ain’t the good old USA “Legal” system so fuckin wonderful???

Paulb · December 24, 2023 at 7:40 pm

I have seen several families damaged by the execution of a will and infighting as part of the process.
Have a will. Keep it current. Distribution of my parents’ estate was the only one I’ve encountered that was argument-free. The worst it ever got was a beef about who got my father’s 18th century bible, which we settled the adult responsible way. Rock, paper, scissors tournament over shots of Jamison.

Winterborn71 · December 28, 2023 at 3:15 pm

Watched this happen with my Step-uncle Bill, 26 years army, then City of Hope security boss for another 20 year + pension later on. And as he declined, he became a cash cow to his feckless daughter and unemployable husband who refused to look for work. Any work. In a new home and while driving brand new cars and Bill was living on almost nothing at the end. Bill would go to my parents place and put on weight while having stage 4 cancer because they would FEED him. He gave/passed his Truck and trailer to my parents and some stuff. The great deal of it was wasted on her.

The stories are long and sordid. Hope your stuff plays out much much better Dive. It frankly sounds better in some ways than what I watched from afar

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