I know a family whose dad passed away last year and left the vast majority of his property to the step-mom by operation of law after 20+ years of marriage. That is, no Will or Trust required. When step-mom passed, she left everything of hers (what was his) to only her children.
This story illustrates the problem of blended families. While what she did is not right, it is not illegal. She was given the property. It was hers to decide what to do with. Dad didn’t have any say in the matter. Step-mom made sure her children were well taken care of while cutting her step-children out completely.
Even if step-mom hadn’t created a Trust in her last days, leaving everything to only her children, the results would have been the same. Under Arkansas law, without a Will or Trust, your property will be divided between only your biological and adopted children.
What can stop this from happening?
- Adopt the children. It becomes more difficult to cut out adopted children.
- Create a trust and spell out exactly how the property is to be divided