One of your biggest concerns, as you do your estate planning, is fighting among your children. You know that sibling disputes over a will and inheritance can drag on for months and get very expensive, and you also know that they often push people apart emotionally. In some cases, siblings never resolve their differences and never speak again.
What you find yourself wondering, then, is why adult siblings cannot get along. You understood it when they were children, but their disagreements continued into adulthood. It’s hard for you to imagine all of your children accepting an estate plan graciously and moving forward with their lives. Why do these issues never seem to end?
Buying into the myths
One potential reason is that some people buy into myths from childhood that they can never shake. For instance, some believe that the child born first gets the parents’ special attention in a way the other kids never do. There’s some truth to this in some cases, as parents focus their attention on the firstborn child and have to divide it for every child born after that, but the destructive myth is that the parents love the firstborn most.
This can cause strife when siblings feel like an estate plan favors the firstborn child. That old bias makes them think the parents really did love the oldest child most. They may dispute an unfair will or hold a grudge against that older sibling.
Siblings hold different views
All children do not turn out the same, even with similar parenting. Some may hold drastically different views about controversial topics, such as religion or politics. In some cases, rather than trying to learn from one another, these views turn them against each other. They are then more prone to argue about little things because they start with this “me against you” mindset.
Children do not have the same lives
Perhaps one of your children cannot keep a job and has massive debt. The other has a good job making $200,000 per year with full benefits. These fundamental differences can stir up jealousy or feelings of guilt. Even an equal estate plan may feel unfair when one child has more need than another.
Parenting styles change
As you got older, your parenting style may have changed. An older child could always feel slighted that he or she had far more rules than the youngest child, for instance. Some children cannot let this go as they grow up, always holding that grudge and potentially looking for ways to get even.
So, what should you do to stop any fights and disagreements over your estate plan? Make sure you know all of your legal options and plan carefully to find a strategy that fits with your family’s unique dynamics.