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Legal battle over baking magnate's estate continues

If you need a good reason to update your will or other estate planning documents, look no further than the battle currently embroiling a late businessman's wife and his children from our neighboring Maryland. The businessman may have left substantial assets when he passed away some months ago, but his widowed wife's portrayal of his estate does not seem to match the picture that his children presented of his finances after his death.

The widow claims that the children are withholding mountains of cash from the estate, while the children claim that she is grossly misrepresenting their father's estate plan in an attempt to retrieve more of his assets.

While both sides may be telling some version of the truth or not, the entire matter could have been made much simpler if the businessman had taken the time to update his estate plan when he married his now-widow. Unfortunately, the available estate planning documents do not mention her, because they were established and left unaltered for years before they were married.

Of course, this is an over-simplification of a very complex matter, and any time that significant sums of money are concerned, you can usually count on some party or another raising objections. If you have an estate you wish to protect in order to pass it on to the ones you love, or if you already have an estate plan that needs updating, be sure to take the time to do so, for the sake of your family and other beneficiaries.

If, however, you believe that an estate plan (or lack of estate plan) that concerns your interests is invalid or incomplete, don't hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney. Proper legal counsel can help you assess the situation and develop strong strategies to achieve your goals and protect your rights.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Dueling financial portraits of John Paterakis emerge in legal battle between widow and children over his estate," Jean Marbella, Nov. 27, 2017

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