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Should siblings share inherited property?

Your deceased parents may have left their home or a vacation property in Washington to you and your siblings with the fond hope that you will share the property, and that it will bring you closer together as you make use of it.

Unfortunately, according to AARP, shared inherited property is more likely to drive you and your siblings apart. You and your siblings are probably already under emotional stress due to grieving your loss. Add contentious issues pertaining to money into the mix, and it can add an incendiary spark to an already volatile situation. 

Because you and your siblings have presumably grown up together, conflict over a shared inheritance can bring up a lot of old grudges that might never have come to light otherwise. One or more of your siblings may use the inheritance dispute to air some petty grievances that date back decades.

When decision making regarding a shared inheritance involves spouses of siblings, that can also be a source of aggravation. The perception may be that spouses are outsiders looking to cash in on the loss. If there is a conflict between your spouse and one or more of your siblings, you may feel caught in the middle.

However, there are situations in which sibling co-ownership can work. They involve clear communication, unemotional discussion, firm ground rules and the limitation of decision-making powers. For example, one family of four siblings in Pennsylvania agreed that only blood relatives of their parents, no relatives by marriage, had privileges to make decisions in regard to what became of their vacation house. There are guidelines in place that govern assignments regarding the use of the house: most months of the year it is completely closed, some months it is open to everyone and each sibling gets a two-week assigned period with his or her family to use the house exclusively during the remaining months.

Open communication is key to maintaining harmonious relations and avoiding inheritance disputes among siblings.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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Riach Gese Jacobs, PLLC
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Lynnwood, WA 98046

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