You and your siblings haven’t gotten along in years. Granted, you’re occasionally able to put the fights and rivalries aside for Christmas dinner or some other family gathering, but that’s a far cry from being happy and getting along. You’re just pretending for the sake of your parents.
If your parents pass away, are things just going to get worse? Are they really the glue that helps to hold those relationships together? That’s true in a lot of families. Sometimes, siblings stop seeing one another completely after their parents have passed away. They don’t feel like they have to try anymore because they were only really trying for Mom and Dad anyway.
This mindset can also cause a lot of problems dividing up the estate. Siblings who constantly bicker and focus on old rivalries at every turn are unlikely to agree with the estate plan. They may fight over assets. They may dispute the will. If the parents have done incomplete estate planning, trusting their kids to figure it out, they may spend years arguing about what should happen next.
Wondering how common this is? It is probably more common than many people assume. About one out of every three adult siblings claim that they have a distant relationship with their brothers and sisters, or they say that those relationships are more of a rivalry than anything else. In some cases, they have completely cut ties and they do not talk at all.
So, overall, around 33 percent (a third) of all siblings find themselves in this situation. By no means are you going through this alone.
Part of the reason this happens is that adult siblings have a hard time moving away from childhood roles. If a younger sibling felt like an older one was controlling and dominating when they were teens, odds are that the adult still feels that way today.
Looking back at those childhoods often exposes the root of the problem. For instance, when asked what words they would use to talk about growing up together, many chose things like “hurtful” and “humiliating” and “competitive.” Researchers noted that it often took almost no time at all for these old conflicts to come back to the surface, making it impossible for siblings to look at each other in a new light.
These memories prove hard to fight. Impressions from childhood last. Even when the parents are no longer around, adult siblings often continue to find themselves at odds with one another.
When these family dynamics lead to estate disputes — remember, this is something about 33 percent of siblings deal with — it is very important for those involved to fully understand their legal options. The conflict can drag on for quite some time.