Many families in California who have dealt firsthand with the death of a loved one may understand all too well the trouble that can arise when a family squabbles over inheritance. The situation can be a perfect storm of emotions. Relatives are dealing with funeral arrangements, worrying about the deceased's last will and testament, and of course, coping with the loss of a loved one and it can be simply too much for people to handle all at once. These are just some of the reasons why family arguments about inheritance can be so painful. People have been known to suffer serious health problems as a result of this stress, including heart attacks, nervous breakdowns and even strokes.
Disputes can occur even among close-knit family groups and can be set off by little things that someone views as inappropriate, greedy or interfering with the process. In the interest of being a good team player, people should always try to tread lightly during this process. Displaying a little empathy towards other family members can go a long way, but that certainly doesn't mean people should be a pushover and let someone else control the estate in a manner that contradicts the deceased's wishes.
The best way to handle these delicate and potentially explosive situations is to make sure that family members have their wills and other estate documents laid out in a complete and cohesive manner. People who fail to fully explain the terms of the will, including what property should go to whom, may be unintentionally setting their loved ones up for a serious battle, which can strain relationships with family members and cost a fortune in future legal fees.
Proper execution of a will can be quick and painless with the help of an experienced estates and trusts attorney. By having the tough discussion during life and documenting the testator's wishes in full can save a lot of infighting later.
Source: Cleveland Daily Banner "WRIGHT WAY: Settling a family inheritance," William Wright, Nov. 6, 2013