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How a secret descendent could wreak havoc on an estate plan

Imagine for a moment that you are attending the funeral of a loved one -- let's say one of your parents -- when you are approached by an individual who strikes an uncanny similarity to you. The individual strikes up a conversation with you and before long, you learn that they are your half sibling from a previous marriage. You're shocked to say the least because your deceased parent never mentioned having other children let alone a first marriage.

Though some might be optimistic about a situation such as this and see it as a happy occurrence, some of our Brevard County readers, who have been following our blog for quite some time, understand that a situation such as this can be equally problematic. That's because an unheard of relative might feel entitled to a portion of the decedent's estate, only to become disappointed to learn they have not been named as a beneficiary. This could lead to the contesting of a will and even litigation.

The importance of talking to loved ones and a lawyer

Though it's impossible to predict whether or not a relative will contest a will upon the death of a loved one, a testator can provide clarification before their death by discussing genealogy with their family and their lawyer. Though the conversation about a former marriage or never talked about child can be difficult and emotional, it could help ease tensions later on by giving direction on how these unknown relatives should be accounted for during the distribution of the estate.

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