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Why do heirs get into estate disputes?

On Behalf of | Dec 12, 2022 | Trusts And Estate Planning

One thing that people are often trying to avoid when making an estate plan is a future dispute between their heirs. Maybe they have seen examples of other families having a falling out that lasts for life, all based on some disagreement over the estate plan. They do not want the same thing to happen to their children and grandchildren.

If avoiding disputes is one of your main goals, a good place to start is by understanding why these disputes take place to begin with. Below, let’s look at a few potential reasons.

Sibling rivalry

In some cases, sibling rivalry has existed since childhood and has not faded. When there’s already animosity between two heirs, they’re more likely to dispute what assets they should get or how the estate should be administered. For instance, an heir who has always felt that their parents preferred a sibling may be predisposed to thinking the asset division plan is unfair.

Sentimental items

Another possible issue is when items have significant sentimental value. The heirs know that they can’t sell these assets and split them, because that would mean no one in the family got them. As a result, there’s no way to divide these assets up, and it is almost always true that someone will be disappointed to not receive the item or items that they want.

Lack of direction

Heirs who do not have an estate plan will often dispute what their parents would have wanted. This lack of direction means they have to try to determine what their parents’ wishes were on their own, and it is simply unlikely that all heirs will come to the same conclusions. What one heir thinks is fair strikes another as blatantly unfair, and a dispute begins with no end in sight.

What can you do while planning?

One of the best ways to avoid an estate dispute is simply to create an estate plan early. Advance planning stops disputes before they begin. Be sure you know how to get your plan in place.