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Inherited property may cause disputes between siblings and this is becoming a significant matter of concern for elderly parents. Equal sharing of property is not always the ideal solution. The Will-maker needs to plan and update the Will according to their own and their family’s situation.

The cases of inherited property disputes can be common if a will has not been written clearly and with proper legal advice.  A clear will that describes the division without any compensation and exceptions can execute a zero-dispute inheritance.

Let’s have a deep look at our top 5 tips to ensure a peaceful splitting of inheritance property and assets among siblings.

sibling dispute over inherited property

The Importance of Estate Planning for Inherited Property

The Will-maker has to plan and think before writing a Will. They need to consider how to deal with siblings to avoid further complications and disputes. The person whose will it is has a right to split their property and assets as they see fit, however, if it is seen as being significantly worse for one sibling, there may be grounds to challenge or dispute a will.

Parents rarely want to leave their children in dispute. So, most Wills provide for an equal share among the children. That may be an ideal choice, but the Will-maker can also discuss it with their heirs to ensure they have a peaceful and reasonable resolution.

One of the children might require long-term care, and in such cases, the person doing the will may need to plan a different sharing strategy among the siblings. Similarly, financial issues of the family, the future outlook of each child, health, and a lot more factors might be considered before a will is finalized.

estate planning

Executor Bias

The executor of the will plays a prominent role in the legal declaration for the distribution of the inherited property. If the executor indicated bias in distributing assets and property, a challenge or dispute may end up in court.

The court may require another, unbiased, executor to take over their role. The process can be conducted under close consideration of the court, the heir, and both the executors.

The heirs can search for the best possible executor for their side. Legal rights and documentary rules are present to execute a peaceful property distribution.

How do inheritance disputes arise?

Inheritance disputes are becoming more common. Unequal share is not the only reason for inheritance disputes. There are many more reasons. An estranged child might have been left out of a will even though the reason for their estrangement was not their fault eg. The case of a son who married a woman his mother didn’t like. As a result, he was disinherited but was able to bring a case to court to argue his right to inherit an equal share in his parent’s estate.

The most common situation that instigates inheritance litigation is the death of parents without a Will. Having a Will can provide instructions as to the division of the estate, but when there is no Will, it can create miscommunication and misunderstanding among the siblings.

inheritance disputes

Does the legislation allow siblings to receive a greater share of the assets?

While it might be possible for one sibling to receive a greater share of the estate and inherited property than another, it does require a valid legal argument and expert inheritance dispute advice.

Although the will should describe the division process and rights, courts still have some powers to override this paper. The court will consider specific facts before making its decision.

  • The Will itself is most important and has priority. The distribution will, in general, most favor the will of the deceased.
  • The communication, affection, and relationship of the deceased to the next of kin affects the outcome. If the deceased had a special fondness for a particular sibling and wanted them to get a greater share, this may happen, in certain circumstances.
  • If there’s a final claim or an exception made, in the will, just prior to their death.

How can litigation be avoided?

Ensuring proper will and estate planning will significantly reduce the risk of litigation. It’s not possible to completely avoid any possibility of litigation as it depends upon the personal decisions of the heirs. An experienced, specialist wills and estate planning lawyer like those at SR Wills and Estates Law.

Case Example

The person creating their will often causes issues that might result in disputes or litigation. For example, an older man with two sons but one is much closer to him. The other son might have moved overseas or further away and so spent less time with his father. As a result, the son that lives close by gets more of a chance to help out his father as he gets on in age.

In order to avoid litigation, the older man might divide the property equally despite the closeness to one of his sons. Dividing the will and estate unfairly could easily result in one son disputing the will and taking the other sibling to court. Therefore, many parents, even if they are closer to one child, will often divide their property and assets equally.

Control and equality of treatment

The best way to avoid litigation is to divide the estate in equal shares.

The law does not bind a parent to equal division, but this can often be the best way to avoid future litigation. Obviously, every person’s situation is different, and this is why speaking with a professional inheritance lawyer, is more likely to provide a result and answer that is both just and helpful.

There are many situations where unequal division is more than fair. For example, if one sibling has a disability, financial problems, or something that means they are struggling to manage their life, they may deserve a more significant share. In these cases, an equal share might even lead to a dispute.

Sharing an inheritance equally won’t always prevent disputes. Planning and distribution of claims according to the need of the situation is always the wiser choice.

Even siblings that get on well when their parents are alive, can have problems once their parents are no longer around to keep the family unit cohesive as they did in the past. Having a well-thought-out and well-divided estate can help to avoid disputes and court challenges.

If you do find yourself in a situation where you need to make a claim or challenge a will, then contact SR Wills and Estates Law for confidential, professional, and expert inheritance advice.

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