Inheritances have long been the source of contentious family disputes. Countless children have been surprised and displeased by what a parent leaves or does not leave in a will.
In previous decades, kids may have been less likely to take their objections to court. There may have been more importance placed on keeping familial issues private which meant that children were not comfortable suing a sibling or other party for what they believe they should have. However, this may no longer be the case. Anecdotally, there are many parties who say that children today are more likely to take legal action when they feel that an inheritance is unfair.
The reasons for the perceived increase in will disputes are many. Parents are living longer, meaning their children are old enough to appreciate the long-term impact that an inheritance could have. It could also mean that parents are in declining mental health before their death and their estate planning decisions may not have been sound.
There is also the argument that parents have more complicated assets when they pass away when compared to previous generations. This could mean that there are factors that are not properly considered in a will and must be hashed out in court.
Some legal professionals also believe that the changing family structures can complicate matters. Now more than ever, people are leaving behind ex-spouses, stepchildren and biological children with different people. That can make it more likely that one or more parties will take issue with an inheritance.
While it is difficult to confirm numbers of the perceived increase in inheritance disputes, the fact is that there are many people in and around Los Angeles who may be struggling to understand their options for challenging a will. While there may no longer be the same sense of embarrassment when it comes to taking legal action against a sibling or other party, it can still be a very difficult and complicated process. Those in this troubling position may be wise to speak with an attorney to explore their options.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Inheritance conflicts pit relatives against one another,” Tim Grant, July 3, 2014