When you hear about two heirs who get into a dispute over a will and have a life-long falling out after the fact, you probably assume that it’s about money. You wonder why people let financial gain get in the way of their relationships with their siblings.
The battle may be about money, but experts warn that little things often spark these disputes because they have a certain amount of sentimental value. To those adult children, these minor assets have major emotional attachments. They can also bring the children back to the rivalries they had growing up, which may be sparked anew after a parent passes away.
Examples of items that can stir up these emotional battles include:
- Pieces of jewelry, even if not really valuable
- Artwork that the parents had hanging in their home
- Holiday decorations that they loved as a child
- Table settings that they remember using all of the time
- An old coat or a hat that a parent wore frequently
- Childhood toys that were forgotten about but never lost
- Books that they read with their parents as kids
Anything that the children can connect emotionally to their parents or their past is a risk. This is especially true when the parents do not put their specific wishes in the will. Then it can become a contest between siblings, who may disagree on what their parents would have wanted.
Do not underestimate how long these arguments can last or how serious they can get. They can trap the whole estate administration process in court for months on end. Make sure you understand your legal rights if this happens to your family.