The death of a family member is a tragic time when loved ones may not be at their emotional best. Everyone processes grief in their own way. After the celebration of life, more steps must take place when it comes to a last will and testament.
Many older parents divide inheritances equally among their adult children. Yet, those amounts still may not be equitable, potentially fostering resentment within the family dynamic. One child may need more money due to losing a job, as opposed to a more well-to-do and steadily employed sibling.
Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, in partnership with Age Wave, a consulting company, conducted a study in 2018. They found that two-thirds of parents 55 and older were willing to give a child who provided them care with a more significant part of the inheritance. Twenty-five percent also noted that adult children with kids of their own should receive more than a brother or sister who does not have offspring.
In the short time following the death of a parent, finding out that inheritances are not equal can result in disputes after the death of a mother or father. Seeds of doubt are planted, with far too many ending up in court with accusations of undue influence on the sibling who received more than others.
Once a will is finalized or revised, parents should be upfront about who gets what. Meetings should be with individual siblings instead of a group. Open lines of communication before tragedy can hopefully stave off the conflict that can come from disgruntled siblings.