Parents often spend a lot of time trying to diffuse sibling rivalries when the children are young. However, those rivalries do not always go away. They often last into adulthood. When a parent passes away, these rivalries may come back up and cause some serious estate planning disputes.
For instance, imagine that one child has always wanted more attention from their parents. They always felt like they were neglected and that the parents gave more time and attention to a sibling.
If the estate plan is not perfectly equal, what does that tell this child? It may suggest to them that they were right. Even in death, their parents preferred their sibling. They gave them more attention and more assets.
This can make it hard for that child to see the real reasons for the difference. Perhaps they are well-off, and the “favorite” sibling has far fewer assets. The parents may have just been giving more to the child who needed more, not showing favoritism. But that history of rivalry between the two makes it feel like favoritism to the child who got less.
Other reasons for these rivalries include difficulty sharing, massive differences in personalities and a feeling that things are not fair between the two of them. All of these issues, like that craving for attention, can cause serious issues when the children start trying to sort out their parents’ estate.
If you find yourself in a dispute with your siblings, no matter what deeper reasons are driving that dispute, it is critical for you to understand the legal options you have.