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Kids, here's your new mom. You're going to love her.

Warfare changes lives, and celebrated battles across the centuries have unquestionably contributed to materially changed human circumstances.

Consider Napoleon at Waterloo. The battle of Yorktown in America's Revolutionary War. Gettysburg. The World War II Battle of the Bulge.

Oh, and a recent Forbes article tells us not to forget the "classic battles between stepmothers and their stepchildren."

Indeed (at least in the estate administration realm), those conflicts often make for some real spice and litigation drama.

We're not being facetious here. Sometimes the best-laid plans of individuals seeking to take care of their loved ones via sound and tailored estate planning never quite get up and running. And when they don't, they are sometimes sabotaged by stepmoms. (The Forbes commentator duly notes that, although stepdads too can be culprits precipitating estate battles, "the frequency of stepfather disputes is a fraction of stepmother disputes.")

It just happens. Legions of blended families in California and across the country obviously thrive and end up being blissfully happy with estate planning outcomes. Statistics reveal, though, that much estate litigation does in fact arise via stepmom/stepchildren tensions and outright acrimony.

The reasons why can be many, and often include one or more of these bulleted possibilities:

  • A long-tenured first marriage producing several now-adult children, followed by a far shorter second union ended by dad's death
  • Dramatically altered estate outcomes realized because dad made important changes to documents while mentally compromised and under the care of stepmom
  • Stepmom summarily cutting off communication with dad's biological children immediately after he passes
  • Sudden irregularities arising with the estate right after dad's death (e.g., missing heirlooms, changed locks, "for sale" sign in the front yard)

Ideally, all executed estate plans would eventually lead to an equitable and harmonious result for all concerned.

Such is not always the case, though. And when they don't because a second or subsequent wife has roiled the waters, the optimal course of action for adversely affected stepchildren might just be to pick up the phone and contact a proven estate litigation attorney.

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