With the high divorce rate in this county, the number of people in New Jersey and elsewhere who go on to marry again is pretty high. Blending families is a tough job for parents, and sometimes, no matter the efforts taken, there may be some bad blood between step siblings or even step parents. This, of course, can lead to estate litigation issues.
An attorney on the other side of the country recently shared his experiences in handling estate litigation cases involving blended families. He says the best way to avoid family disputes is by thorough estate planning. This may include setting up trusts, but these trusts must be funded to work -- which sometimes does not happen, creating even more issues.
Estate planning, in itself, is not always a perfect solution, as the plans can be modified. The big issue with blended families is, if an estate plan is altered, those negatively affected by the changes may believe their loved one was wrongfully influenced to make the changes. Claims of undue influence are very common. Most claims of undue influence come from children accusing their step-mothers of changing their father's estate plans to benefit themselves and their own biological children.
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter who brings a claim of undue influence. If it happens, it needs to be addressed through the estate litigation process. There may or may not be any truth to it. No one will know until a full investigation is conducted. New Jersey residents who want to bring or fight an undue influence claim can do so with the assistance of legal counsel.
Source: thinkadvisor.com, "How to Protect Clients' Assets From Blended-Family Feuds", Jane Wollman Rusoff, Feb. 28, 2018