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Dealing with blended families when creating a will

When a person dies in New Mexico, if that person is part of a blended family in which there are children from a previous relationship, there could be conflict. This was the situation for one woman whose stepmother did not file her father's will in probate court.

In that situation, the woman said her stepmother had come into the marriage with no property but a lot of debt. It was her father's third marriage, and he died just a few years later. Although he told his daughter he had created a will, he did not tell her where to find it or the lawyer's name. When he died, the stepmother also told the daughter that there had been a will, but she said she did not have to file it because all the property was jointly held. The estate included two houses, investment property and three vehicles. Three years later, the stepmother died, and all of the property went to her children. The man's daughter only got a box of photos.

Over a decade later, the daughter wanted to challenge this. However, there is a limit to how long after a death this can happen. The story points to the importance of letting loved ones know where to find a will and who the attorney is.

A person who is creating an estate plan may want to talk to family members about the plan, including who will be executor and what is in the plan. This openness can help prevent misunderstandings and challenges about the will. In a blended family, it can be particularly important to ensure that situations like the above one do not happen if it is important to an individual that their children inherit part of the estate. An attorney may assist the executor in estate and probate administration if necessary.

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