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Dealing with sibling conflict over inheritance

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2022 | Estate Planning

The passing of a North Dakota parent can be one of the most difficult times in the lives of their children. And this can be especially true if there are disagreements about inheritance.

In a perfect world, parents will have made a clearly defined will and communicated what’s in it to their children in advance. But in reality, the contents of a will may come as an unpleasant surprise to heirs. And some people die without a will, meaning their estate will be divided according to North Dakota intestacy law.

Good estate planning can cut down on the potential for conflict between siblings over inheritance issues.

Common sources of problems

One of the trickiest parts of dealing with a parent’s estate is that it’s not just about finances. There’s a strong emotional component, both in terms of prized possessions whose sentimental value exceeds monetary value, and also just due to the stress of dealing with a parent’s death.

Even if the parent has left a strong, clearly articulated will, the contents of that will may come as a shock to one or more siblings. Any person has the right to draw up whatever will they choose while planning their estate.

Assets don’t have to be allocated equally, and a sibling can be completely left out of the will. An heirloom that a sibling thought of as ‘theirs’ may not go to them. Any of these situations can cause ill will and open conflict.

How to avoid sibling conflicts over inheritance

Probably the best proactive thing a family can do to minimize conflict is to have a clearly-articulated estate plan in place. That way, many conflict areas can be hashed out in advance.

But if that’s not possible, it’s often a good idea to involve a mediator. A neutral third party can often chart a course that makes all heirs more content with the outcome.