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How Your Estate Plan Can Reduce Adult Sibling Rivalry


My mother came from a large extended family full of long standing rifts. For most of my life, she didn’t speak to her oldest sister who lived across from us and that sister didn’t speak to the youngest one who was her next door neighbor. It is a family joke that she would suddenly announce a lunch with a relative that we had never heard of who apparently lived in the same city.   So while this was her reality, she always said to me and my siblings, “promise me you will never stop talking.”   With my own children I have tried hard to encourage them not to hold grudges – particularly with each other. .  Nothing brings out the conflict between siblings more than disputes about what they think they are entitled to.  The best way to head this off and to make sure that your wishes are carried out is to prepare an estate plan.   A Dade City estate planning lawyer can help you craft your estate plan in ways that will prevent conflicts between your children from getting worse.

Find Out What Matters the Most to Each Child

Having a family meeting to discuss your estate plan is a recipe for conflict.  Even if your children generally get along well with each other, when you all try to have a frank discussion together, there is a high risk that someone will take offense.  For example, one child might feel like you are rewarding her siblings for their bad financial choices.  The childless sibling might feel like you are giving the children who gave you grandchildren, preferential treatment.  A better idea is to talk to each child individually, without any mention of his or her siblings.  Find out what his or her vision of happiness and financial security looks like and which items of your personal property have the most sentimental value.  Maybe one son wants his grandfather’s military medals, while the other wants the painting that currently hangs in your living room.  You will never know until you ask.  By giving each child his or her input on the division of personal property, you can make decisions that best satisfy everyone.

Irreconcilable Difference Among Siblings

Even if you don’t mean it that way, it can feel like you are playing favorites when you name one child as personal representative to the exclusion of the others.  If your children are already on bad terms with each other, your choice of personal representative can be the last straw, sparking a financially and emotionally costly dispute in probate after your death.  In cases where appointing one child as personal representative will inevitably lead to the flaring of tempers and the filing of objections in probate court, it is best to appoint a neutral third party, such as a lawyer, as personal representative of your estate.

Let Us Help You Today

A Dade City estate planning lawyer can help you identify and correct potential points of contention in your will.  Contact The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane for help with your case.

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