The death of a parent often shifts the family dynamic, making issues arise that appear to be based on current events but in fact are perceived slights that occurred years ago and are now playing out as the parents’ estate is doled out.
Families are complex. While people are complex in general, families are all the more. Why? Families are built on shared histories, both good and bad.
For better or worse, a family’s history sticks with the members of the family, informing their every decision or reaction. This is oftentimes strikingly apparent when it comes to creating one’s estate plans. Remember: The estate planning decisions you make today may affect your loved ones, perhaps for generations.
This issue was the focus of a recent article from Private Wealth titled Siblings Scorned.
As the article notes, it takes a careful hand to divide your estate amongst your family members. Sometimes, even mathematically, equal shares aren’t even in the eyes of certain family members. What are the possible tensions in the family? The reasons are as varied as the makeup of each family itself. For example, did one child get a college degree, while another was denied the opportunity because the family fell on hard times? Did one child seem more favored by the parents, either earlier or later in life?
Interestingly, the most important considerations when planning your estate are rarely money-focused. Over the years, studies have shown that communication between generations and among family members can reduce the risk of family fallouts over estate planning decisions. The “details” communicated, however, will vary from family to family.
I would recommend reading the article from Private Wealth for ideas to mull over and for some real-life stories.
Reference: Private Wealth (March 2012) “Siblings Scorned”