Like most Texas parents, you love each of your children fully. Of course, you may not love the way that they have bickered and fought their entire lives. You may have pictured your children being the best of friends, but that did not turn out to be the case as sibling rivalry continued to get the best of them.
While you certainly tried to show your children that you loved them equally, the relationships between them may not have improved. Now that you are considering your estate plans, you may worry that this sibling rivalry will cause problems after your passing.
Unfortunately, you are right to have this concern because sibling rivalry can cause a number of issues during probate and other proceedings when it comes time to distribute a parent's assets. In some cases, a child may feel cheated or believe that a sibling coerced a parent into favoring him or her over the other siblings. In such scenarios, a long legal fight could result as they fight for the inheritances they believe they deserve.
What can you do?
As you begin your estate-planning journey, you could look into ways to lessen the likelihood of sibling disputes after your passing. One of the best steps you could take is to discuss your decisions, intentions and wishes with your children before your passing. Giving them this inside information could help them better understand why one sibling may receive something that the others do not or why you believe your decisions to be fair. This discussion can also give them the opportunity to air grievances and ask you questions.
You could also choose to appoint a professional third party to act as your executor or trustee. Though many parents do appoint an adult child to this role, if your children are prone to squabbling, appointing one child may cause the others to feel less trusted or may result in the appointed child facing suspicions about every action he or she takes. Appointing an impartial party may help lessen the likelihood of such a conflict.
Fortunately, you can also explore other ways in which you may have the ability to reduce conflict among your loved ones when it comes to your end-of-life wishes. Discussing your concerns and possible planning options with an experienced attorney may prove beneficial to you.