Chicagoland clients marry, divorce, remarry, etc. They depend on Chicago estate planning advisors to help protect their assets for the benefit of loved ones. Sometimes, it’s helpful to hear a story about what could go wrong if your plans don’t get updated when making major life or relationship changes.

There’s the old familiar tale of a successful business owner who ends a longtime marriage and sets up house with a new much younger wife. The tycoon’s ex-wife, who supported him loyally during the many years he built up a fortune, is cut off financially, or is given a pittance of a settlement or inheritance upon his death.

Plot twist

But that’s not the version that went down recently in a Dallas courtroom, according to a Bloomberg article about the culmination of a five-year legal war between two women over the estate of billionaire tortilla king Roberto Gonzalez Barrera.

Instead, in this version of a second-marriage story, the first wife came out victorious. Thanks to multiple court rulings, Graciela Moreno Hernandez managed to hold onto the main ownership seat of Gruma SAB de CV, which is the world’s largest tortilla manufacturing company with a market value of about $6.1 billion. You can find one of the company’s major brands, Mission tortillas, in your local grocery store.

Barrera’s second wife, 1990’s Mexican soap opera star and singer Lorena Tassinari, has received nothing for her three years in the relationship that ended with Barrera’s death in 2012 at age 81.

Divorce annulled

Barrera died of pancreatic cancer. Tassinari filed a claim that as his surviving spouse, she was entitled to a share of the fortune Barrera left to his family. She argued that Barrera and his first wife were divorced, but documents showed that a Mexican court had declared the divorce null and void because the first wife had never been served with court documents. She did not appear in court and she was never represented in the divorce proceedings by an attorney, Bloomberg reported.

Whether Barrera knew he was not legally married to his second wife is uncertain. Perhaps he believed his divorce to Moreno was solid and that his second wife would automatically inherit a portion of his fortune. Who knows?

What is certain is that he didn’t update his estate plan to account for Tassinari and that lack of planning opened a big can of Mexican jumping beans.

Update the plan

The Barrera family’s drama has played out in public courtrooms in both Mexico and Texas, but it could have been avoided if the tortilla tycoon had simply updated his estate plan to include a provision for his second “wife.”

Tassinari has appealed the latest ruling against her, and so the story isn’t quite over. But it’s not looking good for her.

If you are married, divorced, or looking to remarry, take the opportunity to have a conversation with Gary Waitzman, an experienced Chicago estate planning advisor and attorney about the importance of updating your estate plans after major life changes, and verifying that all your legal documents are in order.

We hope this information and friendly reminder was useful to you and helps you consider speaking with Gary about your estate plan and other important legal matters.

Contact Chicago Estate Planning Attorney Gary R. Waitzman Today

Contact Gary in case of any further questions or assistance in setting up your estate plan – By phone @ 847.719.1300 or click here to contact via web form.

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