To ask how common it is for family siblings to fall out due to disputes over wills...

(188 Posts)
BraveMerida Wed 01-Jan-14 20:00:40

....for whatever reasons? And how long did it take for it to finally resolve?

writtenguarantee Fri 22-Aug-14 21:11:51

i say common.

i agree fair doesn't always mean equal. And I don't think if it's "unfair", the heirs have an obligation to right it. i.e. if one sibling gets the whole lot, it's not necessarily the case that they should share. I would be unhappy with my parents if that happened, not my sibling.

KERALA1 Fri 22-Aug-14 15:13:26

The worst fallings out often in the wealthier families in my experience. That said dhs 2 aunts are utterly estranged over their parents small estate. Very sad they used to be close. Glad dhs granny not alive to see it she would be devastated. Wasn't the will that caused the problem but actions of an executor.

DeWee Fri 22-Aug-14 14:12:18

Personally I think parents should try and be fair, but as some people have pointed out, fair isn't always equal. And I'll put bets that some people can argue even when it is equal.

If you're not dividing it equally then I suspect it is often best to discuss it beforehand (eg if one family has inherited millions from the in laws, and won't notice the �5k that comes from the parents it may be appropriate to leave them less)/ However some people hate discussing money and things like that, and sometimes it may be more appropriate to leave a message explaining the reasoning.

One thing I do think is that wives and husbands shouldn't get involved, or feel they are "owed" things. I know when my grandparents died, one of the wives was very pushy to be at any discussions about dividing things up, and was also pushy about trying to aquire things.

Giving items away can also be seen as unfair-for example one war veteran I know caused bad feeling by giving (when he was alive) his medals to his youngest son. The reason was (and I can understand it) that his youngest son was the only one who had his own children, (and they were all old enough more coming along wasn't on the cards) and he wanted them to stay in the family. The oldest son was annoyed because he felt that he should have had them-but the veteran was pretty certain that they would then pass out of the family, either through being auctioned off, or going to his wife's family.

But when it comes to aunts/cousins/family friends then I think it is fair enough to give to one and not to another. There are perfectly good reasons why they might be closer to one than another. One of my uncles I would say that I'm probably closer to than my siblings, one of my great aunts had a special relationship with my dsis for a very good reason. If she had chosen to leave her something (as far as I'm aware she didn't but she might have done) I would feel it was fair enough.

I think another thing that I've noticed is often the better off, the more grabby they are. Not always. but often the person who is struggling accepts being given little, but the one who has plenty is terribly annoyed by not getting more.

Soozle50 Fri 22-Aug-14 11:09:41

Hi does anyone have any advice to protect my elderly mum from my abusive , bullying, alcoholic brother as dad is terminally ill. I worry hat once dad isnt here my brother will bully mum into changing her will in his favour . Mum is in denial about his drink problem and blames herself, wondered if there was anyhting legally that can be done to protect her finances.

HamletsSister Sun 05-Jan-14 16:15:22

Carer. Not career. He had been married to his career before he got too old for one and had a carer instead!

HamletsSister Sun 05-Jan-14 16:14:02

This is not really about the money, but more about who has the power over final funeral arrangements. Both of these happened recently.

My MiL's 2nd husband died. They had been together 30 years, married 15. His daughter took over all the funeral arrangements without asking. Had the service in a church (he was atheist) and even gave instructions that MiL's flowers were not to be put on the coffin. We had to get there extra early to ensure she got a pew at the front and had to watch her, humiliatingly, being asked how she knew the deceased by the vicar. She was not mentioned in the eulogy. His daughter spent thousands on the service (.Cathedral) and reception (free bar) for all her friends. There weren't really any other family. She refused to put MiL (or even beloved husband) on the gravestone. Here wasn't much money but, as executor, she tied it up for 2 years and made sure MiL, who is severely depressed, had a rough time with lawyers.

Case 2 - friends. Grandpa remarried in his 80s to his career who was a member if a charmismatic West African church. He was Old Etonian, very old school CofE. She wanted, and got, his money. But that didin't bother them. It was arriving to find the church too full of her family and church members and having to stand outside even though there were 4 grown up children and several adult grandchildren who simply wanted to say goodbye to their loved one.

Sometimes it is not about the money but about taking away a chance to grieve the way you want to and remember someone the way you know they would want to be remembered.

ProfPlumSpeaking Sun 05-Jan-14 16:13:48

Oh, and we have recently inherited some family silver which we have been told by older family members that we must eventually pass on to our nephew as we only have daughters (and apparently girls don't count). I could (stupidly) fall out over that but that is more a feminist thing. I have already suggested shifting the stuff straight off to said 5 yo nephew as I don't particularly want to be a silver store for the rest of my life.
Sigh, I am turning into a cantankerous old cow!

ProfPlumSpeaking Sun 05-Jan-14 16:11:03

Gosh, this is so tough, isn't it?

Logically, people can leave their money to anyone they want and nobody has any right to feel aggrieved. Personally, I would tax all inheritances at 90% as I don't see that passing on goods/assets down generations fosters a fair society.

BUT having said all that, I would be very hurt if my DM gave me less than she gave my siblings EVEN THOUGH I have no need whatsoever of the small amount of money she has (nor do my siblings, tbf, but my DB spends money like water and so is always short, and he has always been the favourite, so I suspect she will have made him the main beneficiary). I need to give myself a good talking to!!

bearleftmonkeyright Sun 05-Jan-14 15:53:46

Families will fall out over any amount of money as bravemerida says. No win no fee solicitors know there is constant business to be made from those smaller amounts, as the person who has been left the money will not have the financial clout to appoint their own solicitor to fight them off. It's a gravy train for them.

BraveMerida Sun 05-Jan-14 15:42:23

Not really, families fall out over thousands as well as millions.

30SecondsToMarsBars Sat 04-Jan-14 15:37:32

This where the difference in backgrounds really shows on MN

Absolutely. My family have never inherited anything because no one had anything to leave. Reading some of the threads on here you would think every pensioner in the UK bought their house for 5p and it's now worth £5m.

DeckSwabber Sat 04-Jan-14 12:58:17

I agree Grennie.

I am looking forward to enjoying the money I earn when my kids are less dependent on me.

But I wouldn't feel comfortable squandering money I had been gifted. As it is tied up in the house, I am already enjoying the benefit of living in a property I could not otherwise afford. I would like my children to have the same support when the time comes.

ajandjjmum Sat 04-Jan-14 12:55:00

No arguments here....so far....but DM has lived with us since DF died, so she does spoil my family, especially the DC. I always make a point of telling DB what she has done, so that he knows I am being upfront.

DM wrote in her will that all of her jewellery was to be given to me, as her SIL took all of her DM's jewellery whilst DM and her sister were distraught at the loss of their Mum. She has said that she would like me to give something to certain other people, and I will do so.

Grennie Sat 04-Jan-14 12:46:06

This where the difference in backgrounds really shows on MN. My FIL does have some money. Him and my Mil (now sadly dead), worked very long hours to get that money. Even when their children were tiny, MIL set up and ran her own business from home so that they could afford to furnish all the rooms in their rented house.

I would have no problem with FIL spending all hsi money, he and MIL, did earn it.

Levantine Sat 04-Jan-14 11:10:40

Minifingers I couldn't agree more. My dad will tell us all how is he going to spend all his money and a lot of his wealth is due to his having always owned property in London. Nothing to do with work at all. Anyway, I think it will all go on a care home in his case.

I know a family where the great grandmother left everything to her granddaughter, bypassing her daughter. When the daughter died, she too left everything to her granddaughter (my generation, ie in her 30s at the time). Not only that but she left her possessions to her step grandchildren, ie her daughters step DCs and the daughter had to buy them back from them. Everyone seemed to think that was totally fine. I thought it was really odd

minifingers Sat 04-Jan-14 11:00:00

"minifingers its nothing to do with being noble - they worked hard for their money so THEY should enjoy it".

Ah well, that's the difference you see. My parents' adult life was miles easier than mine (they lived abroad and had servants, mum didn't work when we were children, had a comfortable home on one income - a reflection of property prices at the time they were buying). 90% of my mum's assets are the result in an increase in property prices, not a reflection of years of hard work.

"yes its hard out there but as I said I feel im an adult so I should look after me - I don't want my folks looking after me - im very independent"

Yes of course you shouldn't sit on your arse and wait for an inheritance. But there's something very self-indulgent and a bit depressing about the Saga generation frittering away loads of unearned money (which is what property equity is) while their children reap the disadvantages of the economic conditions which have transpired to make so many older people asset rich in their later years.

Bertrude Sat 04-Jan-14 10:30:30

It will happen in husbands family.

There's been a major falling out which involves court cases etc. between 2 daughters (mil and aunt in law). Their brother sided with aunt in law. Nan-in-law sided with mil.

Will has been changed to be 100% to mil, because nan in law said that the court case has ruined mils life, lost fil his job, and therefore they deserve it and the others nothing. This will be contested. Bt there's already no way back for the relationship.

DeckSwabber Sat 04-Jan-14 09:42:55

I have benefited from money handed down by previous generations, and I feel I have a moral responsibility to keep at least that portion of my assets safe for the next generation. I find it odd when I see people blow it all.

I have it in mind to pass at least some of it on in my lifetime, so that they benefit from it when it will make the most difference to them.

vipersnestling Sat 04-Jan-14 09:39:45

My Granny had several pictures that had to be hidden in the attic whenever her cousin visited grin

LadyKooKoo Sat 04-Jan-14 09:21:05

Dh and I have left everything to dd. If we outlive her then 50% goes to my niece and the other 50% is divided between his four nieces.

DeckSwabber Sat 04-Jan-14 09:02:24

Southerngirl I am in the same situation re clearing my mums stuff because we've had to sell the house while she's moved somewhere more suitable. It's traumatic for lots of reasons.

My bro has taken lots of 'valuable' stuff but he's been open about it.

Aloneandnowwhat Sat 04-Jan-14 08:08:48

Peggy you're probably right, easier to lay blame at the one who's not here I suppose. My other sister suffered even more, her childrens trust funds were raided and are now empty. My mother should have made sure they were protected, strangely the benefitting sister was the only one there when my mother had the will written.

AdoraBell Sat 04-Jan-14 03:29:14

My father's will devided my already broken family. That was because he didn't make the changes that he Spent years telling everyone he had.

At the time it was written it was fair but by the time he died all it achieved was that the one family member who was already set up for life got everything while the vulnerable person who we'd been told would inheret got zilch.

I always knew I wouldn't Get anything and never wanted anything, but I did expect it To at léast be shared. Especialy as everyone had heard him say many, many times, what his intención was.

Polynomial Sat 04-Jan-14 03:17:12

My neighbour told me that one of her relatives burnt her uncle's last will as soon as she heard that he had died, and had a copy of an earlier will that left everything to her - so got the lot.

I think the current system is too lax.

I think that once you have made a will it should go into a special will registry, as happens in some other countries.

Sadly, I don't think it will ever happen in England/Wales as so many MP's are lawyers. The legal system earn fees/court costs out of will disputes so it would not be in their interests to do so.

If a central will registry were to be set up, it would either be done on a shoe-string and be really crap and inefficient, or else the charges would be too excessive (as for making a POA).

Apatite1 Sat 04-Jan-14 03:10:24

I don't have a relationship with either my brother or sister (no falling out, we are just very different and live on different continents) so I'm sure inheritance will be a tricky subject. My husband will inherit nothing and my parents will not leave anything to me unless I have children. Which I'm obviously not going to do on their say so. I expect my siblings will get everything. Might be unfair, but I'm mentally prepared for it. My parents' estate is in the millions so I will miss out on a lot, but we are capable of managing on our own and I won't contest the will.

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