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Working through conflict: Tips for estate disputes

Estate disputes cause a lot of conflict, often among siblings. To get everything sorted out, you want to reduce the conflict as much as possible. This allows you to talk rationally and seek solutions, rather than responding emotionally and letting that take over.

How can you do it? Here are a few key ways to reduce conflict and move forward with the rest of the process:

1. Focus on your attitude

Attitude is everything. If you're trying to "win" the dispute or show up a sibling, you're going to keep that conflict alive. If you're trying to find a fair solution or respect your parents' wishes, you'll put the conflict aside. It really can be as simple as adopting the right attitude at the beginning. As one expert noted: "Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude."

2. Keep perspective

In the grand scheme of things, you do not want to ruin a relationship with a sibling or a family member. You don't want to let them take advantage of you, either, but you need to find some balance. Keep that perspective. Stay focused on what really matters.

3. Stay away from destructive behavior

Even if you can't agree, don't make it personal. Don't insult the other person. Don't lash out in anger. Don't stonewall them by ignoring them or refusing to communicate. All of these things are based in emotion, and they only make things worse. You want to base your approach in facts and focus on the case itself.

4. Find balance between passive and aggressive behaviors

If you go too far in either direction, it's a problem. If you're too aggressive, as noted above, you can come across as entitled and hostile. This just drives a wedge between the two of you. On the other hand, if you're too passive, you may not set proper boundaries or stand up for your rights. You need to find that middle ground.

Your rights

Some conflict is inevitable, but, as you can see, there are ways to reduce it and manage it. That's the key to working through an estate dispute and finding a solution. If your goal is to make sure that what your parents would have wanted is what really happens, that's the best way to do it.

Of course, at the same time, you do need to be well aware of your rights in California and all of the legal steps you can take to protect yourself.

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