The death of a parent is never easy. Each individual family member is forced to contend with the loss of the relationship they had with their mother or father, and the family unit may be impacted. Too often, at a time when the family could benefit from being close, differences and misunderstandings create distance.
Carefully laid plans can help prevent sibling arguments from breaking out after the loss of a parent. Knowing the common triggers of family feuds and disagreements allow you to prepare your own family for loss. Here are a few of the most common reasons for fights between siblings after a parent dies:
Division of Property
Children and grandchildren alike often find themselves embroiled in battle over their deceased loved ones’ assets. Even with wills and trusts in place, tension can run incredibly high. That is why it is so important to discuss your estate plans with your loved ones as you make them. Explaining why you left your beloved lake house to your eldest daughter or favorite car to your youngest son can help your other children accept your decision well before the property is ever handed down.
Responsibilities and Resentment
Too often, an adult child or grandchild is singled out as the decision-maker and executor of the deceased parent’s estate. They’re left to handle funeral arrangements, distribute assets to heirs, and be the emotional rock for their family. This is often too much for a single person to shoulder on their own, leading to frustration and resentment. Careful advanced planning can eliminate much of the “to do” list that so often accompanies a loss.
Left Out and Overlooked
In some cases, a sibling might be passed over in the will for reasons that are not immediately clear. Some individuals are given a smaller share of their parent’s estate than their siblings. Either way, feelings of confusion and sadness are bound to follow. A will often represents how a person appreciated their relationship with their beneficiaries. It can be incredibly painful to see how your relationship stacks up in comparison to others.
Loss can upend the dynamic of even the most loving families. The best way to avoid such fights is to talk about inheritance plans while you are still here. While such conversations can be uncomfortable, your loved ones deserve your reasons rather than make assumptions once you are gone.
For assistance in establishing an Estate Plan that will make your wishes clear and take some of the responsibilities off the shoulders of your loved ones, CONTACT US.
Written by Kimberly Hegwood, an experienced Texas Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney and the founder of the Hegwood Law Group, PLLC in Houston, Texas. Attorney Hegwood is a Member of the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, and she and her law firm have a Featured Listing on ElderCareMatters.com – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources to help families plan for and deal with the Issues of Aging.
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