You and your siblings have grown up and moved all over the country. You all still keep in touch, of course, but there’s a lot of distance between you. Your parents still live in your childhood home, though, and it becomes something of a touchstone for all of you.
As your parents age, you and your siblings start spending more time there. Naturally, some of the conversations begin to mention what will happen to major assets — the home, a vacation house, a family business, an investment account, etc. — when they move down to the next generation.
Right away, you start to worry that there are going to be disagreements. It does not seem like everyone’s on the same page, and there is already some tension.
Why do disputes happen?
Estate disputes happen for many reasons. One of the more common is when there are sibling rivalries still in place. You may not have realized these rivalries still existed since you spend so much time apart, but they can come back to the surface at a time like this. Disputes may be more about how heirs see each other than anything else.
Disputes also happen when sentimental items are involved. You and your siblings may have no issue with how money gets divided, but what about that art collection? What about the fancy dishes? What do you do with your parents’ gun collection or even the small household items that you remember from being a kid?
In many cases, these disputes are hard to resolve because they have nothing to do with money. There is no easy way for you and your siblings to decide what is “fair” because people simply want to own the same items and someone is bound to be disappointed. It’s inevitable, but it can lead to a dispute, especially if the estate plan doesn’t explicitly mention those items.
What comes next?
If a dispute does happen, the entire process of splitting up an estate gets more complex. It can take time, and you definitely need to know what legal options you have to sort it all out as smoothly as you can.