The 59-year-old widow of a famous restaurant founder is seeking additional compensation after winning control of the man’s estate. The woman was the third wife of the founder of Benihana Japanese restaurants, some of which can be found in Florida. The woman is seeking an extra $3 million that she claims was “looted” from the man’s estate as he was on his deathbed. A lawsuit has been filed in the matter, but the man’s children say the woman should not be allowed to pursue probate litigation.

Reports show that the woman laid claim to the man’s $35 million estate, and she is now the chief executive officer of the Benihana empire. The $3 million in question had been held in a trust. Three of the man’s children and a close family friend were named as trustees of that asset, so they distributed the money equally among the man’s six children. Two of them desperately needed the money, according to the trustees. That incident occurred in July 2008, according to legal documents. The man’s children claim that they were entitled to the money because the widow was not named as a beneficiary of the trust.

The man and woman wed in 2002 without a prenuptial agreement, which may have led to complications that can only be resolved through estate litigation. Attorneys for the woman say that such actions are “not uncommon” after the death of a loved one.

Family and estate law can quickly become complicated when stepparents and children lay claim to the same assets. Probate litigation may be able to clear up some of those conflicts. A Florida attorney may be able to advise clients who are pursuing probate litigation. Probate attorneys may use many resources to pursue a favorable legal outcome for their clients.

Luis E. Barreto