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Sibling arguments can make handling probate litigation stressful

Losing a loved one is often stressful enough without having to tend to their final affairs. Even though death often brings families together, closing out the final estate of the dearly departed can create a lot of tension among beneficiaries. Siblings, in particular, may be more apt to contest a parent’s will or trust, especially if they feel they have haven’t been treated fairly or were given an unequal inheritance. Handling probate litigation can certainly be a difficult experience for Texas residents. At an already emotional charged time, siblings arguing over inheritance can simply add fuel to the fire.

As parents take time to construct or modify an estate plan, they may need to consider sibling relationships. There certainly are good reasons to grant children an equal inheritance, particularly if children are likely to fight. However, there are also many good arguments for parents to vary the inheritance each child is granted. The reasoning for wanting to vary inheritance amounts can include knowledge of economic struggles, availability of children in the last years of life and strife in parent-child relationships — just to name a few. No matter what option is chosen, equal or a varied inheritance, having a solid plan in place that includes a well-drafted estate plan, will certainly help in minimizing the kinds of legal claims that can be made against the estate.

Talking with adult children about a final estate may also prove beneficial. Opening this topic up for discussion, while not an easy thing to do, can give children realistic expectations regarding inheritance. Not all details of an estate plan need to be divulged, but some explanation may help prevent arguments later on.

Handling probate litigation over a parent’s estate can bring out the best and worst in siblings. While it may not be possible for parents to prevent all the arguments that could arise over inheritance, it is certainly possible to reduce them. Texas residents can take certain legal steps while preparing their final estate plan, to ensure final wishes are carried out as desired and children receive what is intended for them.

Source:, “Sibling rivalry in probate disputes“, Patricia L. Davidson, July 27, 2014