Why sibling estate disputes can be so difficult to resolve

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2022 | Estate Administration & Probate |

In cases where siblings, now adults, wind up in a dispute over their parents’ estate, things can get very complicated. These types of disputes can be much harder to resolve than you would expect.

The problem is that there’s a lot more going on than just the distribution of the estate. You have to address the root causes of these problems to try to find a solution.

Sentimental items

For instance, perhaps there is an issue with an item that has sentimental value. Say that it is a dishware set that both siblings remember their parents always using while they were growing up. It was purchased 40 years ago and it has almost no value, but they both want it because they have this dream of letting their own children use the same dishes.

If the dispute was just over the value of an asset and both people wanted to get their money out of it, said asset could simply be sold and the money could be divided. This would be a simple solution and it wouldn’t result in a long dispute.

But when the value is strictly sentimental, selling the item is out of the question. For one thing, selling it would mean that neither person would get what they wanted, and no one would be happy with that solution. Secondly, as noted above, sentimental value does not translate into monetary value and it might not be worth selling it anyway. If both people knew that they were simply going to get $50, they’re clearly not fighting over the money.

This means that compromises likely have to be made. It is physically impossible for both people to have the same dishware set, unless they’re willing to break that set up. But for other assets, such as a painting or a book, even dividing the asset itself isn’t possible. This creates such a contentious situation because it is inevitable that one person is going to feel like they won and the other is going to feel like they lost. When you throw in the dynamics of sibling rivalry, they may both feel like they don’t want to budge.

Working through such a dispute

Although things like this can be complicated, there are always solutions to estate disputes. You just have to know what legal options you have as you work through it.