Baby boomers are estimated to be due to inherit $8.4 billion from their parents in the coming years, and this has led to an increase in court battles between family members over wills. While most disputes regarding wills are referred by courts to mediators, some cases take a long time to resolve in court.
Experts say that many of these disputes arise due to longstanding sibling rivalries or are a result of people who are desperate for money in tough times wanting for fight for everything that they can get. The number of disputes has also grown because middle class individuals have more assets today than they did in the past and because parents are living longer. This could result in an elderly parent being pressured to change his or her will to suit one family member over another.
Those who have a will are urged to curb potential disputes by dividing assets as equally as possible. It is also important to put in writing what each child is going to receive and to do so while still healthy to reduce the chances of anyone claiming that the will was crafted by someone of an unsound mind. It is also important to keep the will in a safe place to avoid a situation where one child may steal it in an effort to convince a court that a parent died intestate.
It may be worthwhile to prepare a will with the help of an estate planning attorney. This may reduce the chances of will contests or it being nullified in court by a son or daughter who claims favoritism toward one child over the other. If a will is determined to be invalid, assets may be divided according to state law in a way that may not be in line with the maker's original wishes.
Source: Insurance News Net, "Inheritance conflicts pit relatives against one another", Tim Grant, July 04, 2014