Sibling issues can arise with a last will and testament when there is disagreement among siblings regarding the handling of the estate. What follows are some common sibling issues that can arise with a last will and testament.
- Unequal distribution of assets: When a parent leaves more to one sibling than the others, it can lead to resentment and conflict among siblings. This can be particularly problematic if the parent did not clearly explain their reasoning or if there were accusations of favoritism. This issue can create legal issues for the estate. However, being unhappy with an inheritance is not a valid reason for challenging a will.
- Disagreements over executorship: Siblings may disagree on who should be named as the executor (or personal representative) of the will, or on how the executor is carrying out their duties. This can lead to disputes over the management of the estate and can cause delays in the distribution of assets. An executor is faced with making numerous decisions during probate. Dealing with a sibling that disagrees and second-guesses those decisions can make things difficult.
- Disputes over the validity of the will: If one sibling believes that the will is invalid or that there was undue influence or coercion involved in its creation, they may contest the will. This can lead to a lengthy and expensive legal battle, as well as strained relationships among siblings. Unfortunately, the cost of fighting such a challenge can drain the estate of funds. For example, a home may have to be sold to help pay the legal fees if the will is contested.
- Unresolved family conflicts: Sometimes, long-standing family conflicts can be reignited during the estate planning process. Siblings may have unresolved issues from childhood or past events that resurface during the distribution of assets or the handling of the estate. A death in the family is always an emotional situation and dissension among siblings can ratchet things up to a breaking point.
To minimize the potential for sibling issues with a last will and testament, it's important to have open and honest communication with all family members involved. The testator (the author of the will) should clearly explain their wishes and reasoning for their decisions and try to address any potential conflicts or concerns in advance. This is the time to avoid surprises. It's also important to work with a qualified estate planning attorney who can help ensure that the will is legally valid and enforceable.
Contact a firm like Wright Law Offices, PLLC to learn more.