When inheritance disputes begin, it’s easy for people to point to one driving factor: greed. But is that really fair? Is that really why these disputes take place?
The reality is that, while some disputes do arise as heirs simply try to get more money, many of them have absolutely nothing to do with greed. They may not even be about financial gain at all. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons these disputes really take place.
The connection to the past
One potential reason is that the items in the estate form a connection to the past for the child. They connect the child to their parents in a way that few other things do.
Remember, at the time at which these disputes begin, the children are trying to deal with the loss of a family member who has been around their entire lives. This is not an easy adjustment to make. Nothing can fully prepare them for it. These items may connect them to their parents and their memories, and so they will dispute what to do with them — who gets them, whether or not they can get sold off, etc.
Similarly, the children often have a sentimental link with these items. It’s not just about the past. They may value something more than they should just because of how their parents used it.
For instance, maybe their father passed away. For his entire life, he had the same coffee mug, which he used every morning. The children saw it every day when they were growing up. It was “part” of their father.
That mug may have almost no resale value. Maybe their father paid $10 for it decades ago. Now it’s virtually worthless. Even so, the children may have a massive dispute over who gets the mug. They can’t sell it and split the money because it’s not about money. It’s about this one-of-a-kind item with sentimental value.
Value to the parents
Disputes also happen because children may take their inheritance as an indicator of their value to their parents.
This is often a problem when a “favorite” child gets more money than a child who has always felt like the black sheep. Even if the parents have a good reason for it, such as one child having far more personal assets than the other, it may feel like an insult or a confirmation that the other child really was the favorite.
These are just a handful of reasons why estate disputes occur. If you find yourself in one for any reason, you need to know what rights you have and what legal steps to take.