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Addressing an inheritance dispute

The death of a family member is, needless to say, a stressful enough experience on its own. Inheritance disputes often only add to this stress. Why did a late family member decide to arrange the will they way they did? What might it mean for beneficiaries? How can siblings cope with misunderstandings and disagreements as a result? Although each situation in Seattle is unique, the following can provide some clarity during these complicated times.

The American Association of Retired Persons understands how common sibling inheritance disputes can really be. Surprisingly enough, many fights arise not because of money, but because of power imbalances. It is easy for siblings to develop misunderstandings in regard to a late family member's love and affection, mistaking the details of a will for favoritism. One way parents can help adult children avoid burning bridges involves dividing the estate equally; doing so can help siblings feel equal. With this said, choosing an executor is an essential but commonly disputed point of the process. The AARP encourages readers to explain to family why one child is fit for this job over another, and explains why selecting the oldest child is one way to go about this fight-free.    

Sometimes, even the closest communication fails to prevent an inheritance dispute. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards offers some routes to solutions when it comes to a will disagreement, noting three common causes of disputes:

  • Failure of intentionality
  • Wrongful acts during or after the decedent's lifetime
  • Perceived inequity   

The CFP explains that failure of intentionality usually has to do with a mistake made during the drafting process. It is also common for surviving family to discover dishonest practices that took place during a loved one's lifetime, such as financial abuse during elder care. Perceived inequity involves a beneficiary's perceived unfair treatment in a will. Of all the aspects that can go wrong, knowing the potential obstacles of a will can help siblings navigate points of contention the right way.   

 

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Riach Gese Jacobs, PLLC
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P.O. Box 1067
Lynnwood, WA 98046

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