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Anna Nicole Smith is the perfect example of inheritance issues

The story of the wicked step-mother is one that spans countless languages and cultures across the world. Stateside we have a modern-day version of this timeless tale that involves a gold-digging woman who swindles an older man who is already financially well off into giving her all of his assets.

One highly publicized example of this modern-day myth is the late starlet Anna Nicole Smith case. Following her first husband's death, Smith began a lengthy legal battle with his family over his estate. The resulting legal battle has lasted well over a decade and, according to one judge, will last into perpetuity.

Is this legal?

If faced with this situation, where a much younger step-mother seemingly inherits the entirety of her husband's wealth, the question becomes, can she claim the assets and do whatever she wants with them? Often the relationship between a step-child and parent is strained to begin with, but once multimillion-dollar assets get involved, it can turn into a battle.

Wording is everything

Any claim to the estate depends on the precise wording of the deceased's will. If the estate shows that everything goes to the wife and you were only to inherit part of the estate under certain conditions, this can feel incredibly unfair and hurtful.

Additionally, this could be contrary to the actual desires of the deceased. Perhaps it was assumed that the assets would be shared among biological kids and life partner alike. If your loved one worked with a lawyer in preparing a will or trust, it might be helpful to try to talk with that legal professional.

If you genuinely believe that your loved one's wishes are not being carried out, you may need to consider filing a claim against the estate under the guidance of legal counsel.

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