No matter how close or distant you and your siblings may be, the death of a parent can bring you together under difficult, painful circumstances. During this time, disputes can occur. Below are some of the common reasons behind conflicts and tips for how to address them.
Appointing decision-makers and representatives
Parties will need to make decisions regarding your parent’s estate, care and financial management if they are incapacitated or pass away. Ideally, your mom or dad named these people in their estate plan, but if they did not, fights can arise over who should take on these roles.
Under these circumstances, consider the traits that make someone suitable for these positions and the obligations these parties will have. These details can help you determine who may be willing and most capable of filling this role.
Another option could be appointing someone outside the family to make decisions. This can remove the emotional and personal elements that could be creating conflict.
Fighting over property distribution
Again, ideally, a parent will have an estate plan in place that reflects their wishes for property distribution. Ideally, those wishes would be fair and acceptable for all parties.
However, this doesn’t always happen.
If you and your siblings are fighting over property, you could go through mediation to reach a resolution. You might also defer to an independent fiduciary. Should these efforts fail, you could make your case in court.
Challenging a parent’s wishes
Even if your parent did complete an estate plan, you or a sibling could suspect that a parent was the victim of undue influence or lacked mental capacity, leading to a will contest. Courts are not eager to set aside a person’s will. Thus, raising these concerns is not something anyone should do lightly, but it can happen. If it does, sparks can fly among siblings.
Rest assured, the courts will focus on the facts before deciding whether to uphold a will. Elements like sibling rivalry or perceived favoritism will generally not be relevant.
Administering a parent’s estate can be uncomfortable, stressful and incredibly emotional as it is; adding in conflicts among siblings can make this time that much more difficult to navigate.
However, keeping this information in mind and discussing concerns with an attorney sooner rather than later can help you overcome probate challenges.