Sadly, siblings fighting over inheritance is a common occurrence. What should you do to keep your family intact?
When Bianca’s mother passed away, she had only started grieving when her sister Nancy swooped in to rummage through her mum’s things to look for precious knick-knacks.
“Nancy hardly ever visited my mum when she was in poor health, but she didn’t waste any time before she turned the whole house over looking for things to pocket,” says Bianca. “Before I realised what had just happened, she had already gone through my mum’s jewellery box, taking the most sentimental pieces.”
After finding out that their mum had left the family home to Bianca, Nancy threw a fit. “It doesn’t make sense,” Nancy says. “I have three kids, and Bianca doesn’t have any dependents. It’s just unfair.”
Ever since they were kids, Bianca and Nancy always had a bit of sibling rivalry going on, but their arguments over their parents’ estate drove tensions to a new level. Now, they no longer speak.
What can you do to prevent this from happening in your family? Here are some things you should keep in mind.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. First of all, you should make sure that your parents have a will while they are still of sound mind. Discuss what is to become of their estate with the entire family present. To keep things calm and civil, have someone mediate these discussions.
Negotiate which possessions should go to whom, and take note of everything so you won’t get surprised down the road.
If your parent didn’t leave a will, don’t try to divide the estate yourselves. Even if you and your siblings have a good relationship, having a professional help you divide your loved one’s property will help you keep conflict at bay.
Don’t take the executor’s word for it, especially if he/she is a beneficiary. Make sure that you’ve taken a look at your parent’s will to verify that everything is up to speed. If you don’t stand up for yourself, no one will.
If your siblings are going through your parent’s belongings in search of sentimental items, they may just be grieving. So long as they aren’t taking anything valuable, you could just let things slide. Think of what your loved ones would want—you don’t want a family war to be your parent’s legacy.