The recent Zelman case involved all-too-familiar fighting between a second wife and first kids. The children of 85-year-old Martin Zelman instituted guardianship proceedings alleging that Martin’s wife was taking advantage of him and isolating him from his children, in part to take control of his substantial assets. The children alleged that Martin had “accidentally” deposited $3 million in the couple’s joint bank account, and that the money should be returned to Martin’s sole ownership.
Adding to the unusual cases profiled in our Adoption Series (see here, here, here, and here), a Florida court recently decided whether an adopted daughter’s attempt to invalidate her own adoption, so that she could inherit her biological father’s estate as his lineal heir, had any legal merit.
We recently have written about how adopting an adult can allow an unrelated person to share in an inheritance (unless it is done with improper motives). But how, and from whom, do adopted persons (whether they are adults or children) inherit under Florida law?
Sometimes blessings occur when we least expect them, but a lack of planning for such blessings can have unpleasant results. In the recent case of Maher v. Iglikova, a Florida court dealt with the ramifications of an unexpected blessing: the discovery of a previously unknown child.
We recently had a client inquire about challenging his stepmother’s will. Our first thought, and perhaps yours, was that the desire to challenge came from a history of animosity between the client and his stepparent, something we see all too frequently. However, in this case, the client was actually fond of his stepmother – that is, until she died with a will that left all of his father’s assets, including the family home, to her children.
Summer is here! That means lots of sunshine, warm weather, and kids enjoying time to play outdoors. But will your kids be able to enjoy their summers if you are not around to care for them? Most people do not like to think about the possibility that something may happen to them where they would not be able to care for their children, but the unfortunate reality is that unexpected things do happen. If something occurs that renders you unable to care for your children, even for a brief period of time, and you do not have a plan naming guardians in place then the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) likely would have to take your children. This means that your children would be cared for by strangers until you either were well again or until the authorities could figure out other arrangements. No parent wants that.
It is understandable that parents typically want to treat all of their children equally when preparing an estate plan. However, all children are not created equal. One may be self-sufficient, even wealthy, and not need an inheritance. Another may not be able to manage money for one reason or another. Another child might have a drug or other addiction problems. In such examples, parents need to work with their estate planning attorney to create a plan that takes care of each individual child according to his or her needs.
As a Jacksonville, Florida Probate Lawyer, I have been involved in a probate dispute among six siblings. This probate litigation is located in Duval County, Florida. A mother died and left her estate to be divided among her six children. The tangible personal property was to be divided equally among the six children. However, the mother specifically stated that one of the children could continue to live in her home, but that the living arrangements would be subject to an agreement among all of her children. This has made for quite a probate dispute.