Dear Clients and Friends,
This next question tells a cautionary tale about second marriages and how it may negatively affect the children and stepchildren when it comes to their inheritances. Planning for those who are in a second marriage becomes crucial if either spouse wants to leave assets for their children from a prior marriage.
My father married a widow with 2 grown children approximately 30 years ago. Unfortunately, she is terminally ill. The stepchildren are demanding that all her IRAs be changed to name them as beneficiaries. If he fails to do so, they are threatening to sue him claiming that their mother gave up working and is entitled to half his estate which in turn belongs to them? Can they do this?
First, my heart goes out to your entire family over the sickness of your stepmother and for the circling buzzards. While I may sympathize with her children, there is probably nothing they can do about it. They are not entitled to anything from your father’s estate. More importantly, they are not legally entitled to anything from their mother’s estate. Children have no RIGHT to an inheritance. Their mother could have named them as a beneficiary of her IRA (and other assets), but chose not to. Tough luck. The fact that she did not work and could not accumulate other assets is not important and actually only shows that your father may have supported her over the 30 years of their marriage. I hope these were 30 happy years. If they were divorcing, I may have different advice, but that is not the fact presented.
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peace, health and happiness,
Lawrence Eric Davidow