When I was growing up and babysitting for 25 cents per hour (plus all the Coke and pretzels I could consume), the best part of the job was that I could stay up late and watch TV [black and white]. Right around midnight, a public service announcement would say in an ominous voice: "Do you know where your children are?"
Today the question might be: "Do you know where your parent is?" As Kelly Greene reports in the Wall Street Journal, many adult children are surprised to learn the day before a parent's funeral that their parent had married a hired caregiver and the surviving spouse is claiming the bulk of the estate. Ownership of bank accounts has been changed. Retirement account beneficiaries have been changed. Greene asks: Is there anything that children can do to defeat statutory rights of surviving spouses when it's obvious that it was just a scam?
According to Greene, in a few states, courts and lawmakers are starting to make it easier to unwind a "twilight union." Florida closed a loophole last year by enacting a law that gives heirs and others the legal standing to challenge any marriage—even after a spouse's death—on the grounds of fraud, duress or undue influence.