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Family fights over inheritances

Baby boomers are estimated to receive a median amount of $64,000 from their parents as they pass away. With so much wealth being passed on from parents to adult children, fights over who should get what from their parents are becoming more common in New York and around the country. While many of these battles are continuations of sibling rivalries that have lasted for years, some of the conflict stems from the fact that many people are going through tough financial times.

According to a New York trusts and estates lawyer, people are willing to fight for whatever money that they can get and are not necessarily ashamed about making their intentions public or taking their siblings to court. While it was once considered shameful to fight over a will in court, more and more people are willing to contest a will if they feel they didn't get their fair share from their parents.

Another reason why heirs may be willing to fight family members for their parents' assets is because there is more wealth to share. Unlike previous generations, many middle class individuals owned a home, had a retirement account and had other valuable assets at the time of their death. In some cases, a parent may have passed down ownership of a profitable family business to one sibling but not others.

Timely estate planning and good communication between parents and children may make the passing of assets easier. It may also be worth looking into creating a trust with specific instructions that may be tougher to challenge when the person who created that trust passes. Many challenges to wills or trusts may be settled outside of the courtroom, and it may be worthwhile to talk to an probate attorney to come to a resolution.

Source: Insurance News, "Inheritance conflicts pit relatives against one another", Tim Grant, July 04, 2014

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