Husband, Son Fight Over Woman’s Estate in Probate Court

College students in the U.S. struggle with a number of stresses during school, from paying tuition to taking exams to developing skills that are intended to set them on a path toward success. However, one young California student is currently dealing with some additional stress that was likely unimaginable less than two years ago.

The young man’s life changed forever in February 2013 when his mother collapsed while watching him play soccer and passed away. As if losing his mother was not upsetting enough, the boy learned at the hospital that the man who raised him and was married to his mother was not his biological father. In the aftermath of these events, the 19-year-old boy then faced the legal nightmare of a bitter fight over his mother’s estate.

Reports indicate that the mother did not leave a will or trust behind, meaning that the estate would need to go through the court process of probate.

According to state law in Hawaii, where the family resides, a spouse is entitled to receive half of the assets not assigned in a will or trust. However, an attorney for the son argued that the mother would have wanted the money to go toward her son’s college education, which could be as much as $56,000 a year for out-of-state students.

Not only are the husband and son left to fight over the assets in court, but the process has taken a dramatic toll on their relationship. Once considered father and son, the two men are now estranged. The son has also discovered evidence that suggests the man was cheating on his mother before her death.

While an estate plan might not have been able to prevent this relationship from unraveling as it has, it could have protected the teenager from having to go through the probate process, which is hard enough for adults to do.

People who are debating whether they need to put together an estate plan may want to keep this story in mind. Wills and trusts are not just about money; they are about providing for loved ones and taking steps to help them avoid bitter courtroom battles. By planning ahead, people can hopefully help family members avoid the kind of drama, pain and anxiety that can come with litigation.

Source:, “Soccer star’s touching story takes a turn over estate,” Dan Nakaso, Aug. 3, 2014