Kirtland & Seal, L.L.C.

Kirtland & Seal, L.L.C.

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Spotting a potential inheritance dispute: 5 reasons they happen

How do you know if your heirs will fight over your will or not?

Obviously, everyone hopes that their last requests will be accorded a measure of respect. However, deaths sometimes bring to the surface resentments and conflicts that have been quietly boiling away for years.

Here’s how to spot the signals that it could happen to your family:

Your heirs aren’t close.

Whether it’s garden-variety sibling rivalry or a serious rift between siblings for other reasons, you can anticipate the discord to magnify once you’re not there to negotiate peace.

One of your heirs has a substance abuse problem.

You may love your child no matter what, but your other heirs may not feel that way. If one of your children has a serious drug or alcohol addiction, it’s likely that the others will think that any money left to that sibling is wasted or even enabling the problem further.

One heir is closer to you than the others.

You may enjoy a particularly close relationship with one of your children. That’s wonderful — but your other children may not feel that way if you end up leaving the majority of your assets to that child to the exclusion of the others. That can provoke charges that the child manipulated you or used “undue influence” to get the lion’s share of the inheritance.

You have a blended family.

When you have a family that’s made up of “yours, mine and ours,” it can seriously complicate inheritance issues. A second wife, for example, can end up at odds with your adult children from a previous marriage over what personal items are supposed to be the spouse’s and what are supposed to go to the kids.

You gave one of your heirs a significant advance during your lifetime.

It’s great if you were in a position to lend your child money to cover some big bills or pay for that new home. Your other heirs may consider that money an advance against that child’s eventual inheritance. They could resent it if the remainder of your assets are divided equally without accounting for those previously-spent funds.

Unfortunately, there are no easy ways to overcome these issues. The smart thing to do is discuss the possibility of a contested will with your attorney and strategize around it.

Source:, “8 Signs Your Family Will Fight Over Your Estate,” accessed March 14, 2018