Siblings Rights after Parents Death
Regarding inheritance rights, a child is entitled to inherit their parents’ estate if there is a valid will or Trust after the parent’s death. If the deceased didn’t leave a Will or Trust, or the terms of their Will or Trust are invalid, their estate is distributed according to intestacy rules. Call Hess-Verdon at (949) 706-7300, the most experienced inheritance lawyer in California.
What is a child entitled to when a parent dies with a will?
After a parent dies, there is an estate administration process to distribute assets according to their Will or Trust. If they die without leaving a valid Will or Trust or the court considers the Will or Trust to be invalid for some reason, then the court will decide how to divide up the deceased’s assets. This process is called “probate” and will determine how to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries.
If a parent dies and leaves a house for their children, they can partition the home to sell. If there is no Will, the probate court will decide how those assets get distributed. In most cases, a parent’s assets go directly to their children if there is no surviving spouse. However, if the deceased parent has remarried, the surviving spouse may have rights over some of the estate.
Regarding Intestate succession laws, call a Hess-Verdon attorney to go over the intestate laws. There are timelines to consider on estate distribution.
Surviving children and half-siblings may also receive other entitlements after a parent’s death. For example, suppose life insurance policies specifically name children as beneficiaries or retirement accounts that name adult children as beneficiaries. In that case, those children may receive extra funds from these sources.
Can a sibling take your inheritance?
If you are the rightful heir after your parent’s death, you are entitled to your inheritance, period. Even if the sibling is a co-trustee of a trust, no one can take that away from you unless you agree to give it away. But then it’s a gift, not a taking. If you are a trustee, learn more about problems with sibblings when setting an estate.
There are two main ways to challenge an inheritance: contesting the Will or Trust and making a family provision claim. The former is when you claim that the Will or Trust isn’t valid (for example, has no valid signature or its content is questionable) and that the deceased wanted something else. The latter is when you claim that the Will or Trust doesn’t provide for someone who should have been taken care of by the deceased (e.g., they gave nothing to their child).
Contesting the Will or Trust has stricter time limits than making a family provision claim-but both have time limits. If there is no dispute during this time, then you can finally inherit your money (and other assets).
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Should inheritance be distributed equally between siblings?
The most common way to distribute assets between siblings after a parent’s death is to divide them equally, which most people expect to inherit. Many people think that if they inherit something or receive an inheritance, it will be divided equally. But it is a misconception, and it is often not the case.
You see, there are some instances where a sibling can receive more from their deceased parents than the other siblings. In some families, the need for fairness isn’t all that important. The siblings may not care what they get as long as they get something. There may be a strong feeling among the children that other families should divide things equally.
In many cases, however, the family members have a strong sense of fairness but different ideas about what’s fair and how it should be done. For example, some people may think that the oldest child should get more than the others because they were always expected to inherit the most in any case.
Or they may feel that different children have different needs – a family member with a disability who then has a special needs trust set up or a sibling who’s already wealthy might need less than another sibling who isn’t well off.
Below are some tips for dividing the inheritance to preserve family unity and avoid conflict. However, this does not constitute legal advice.
Understand Your Parents’ Wishes
The best place to start is looking at your parents’ estate plan. If they had a Will or Trust, it would specify who inherits what property and how much each person receives. It should also name an executor or trustee responsible for carrying out the terms of their plan.
Talk About Your Parents’ Assets
Although you do not have any legal obligations regarding the division of property among siblings after one parent dies, it can be helpful to discuss how you want to divide everything before probate begins. Even if your parents’ wishes are clear on paper, there may still be areas of disagreement or gray areas that necessitate one-on-one discussions that a probate attorney can also mediate.
Consider how sentimental value might figure into the equation.
When a parent dies, it can be challenging to divide things with sentimental value after an individual dies. You might choose to use an auction for these items, with proceeds going back into the estate. Or you can ask that the executor sells sentimental items and proceeds split among family members.
Take a systematic approach to dividing the family inheritance.
One or more children will already have their hearts set on certain items, so it’s a good idea to start there. List those items in one column on a piece of paper or spreadsheet. Create another column next to it for those who want each item and why. This will help you see which things are most important to family members. If you are the settlor, make sure inherited property does not create an estate planning nightmare for the family. Contact Hess-Verdon for an attorney consultation today. Prepare appropriately to mitigate any sibling rivalry.
Are all siblings entitled to see a Will or Trust?
No. The law says that wills and Trust must be made available to beneficiaries but not necessarily to family members who are not in the Will or Trust. This means that siblings who were not named beneficiaries have no legal right to see it. If they are not named, it’s usually for a personal reason, such as with second marriages or if one sibling has received most or all of the inheritance in prior years.
The question often arises when a parent passes away and leaves most of their possessions to one child and nothing (or very little) to the others. The wronged children may suspect that the sibling receiving everything has changed the will somehow – perhaps they coerced the parent into making changes, or there was forgery involved.
In these situations, the other family members understandably want answers. This is where we come in as probate attorneys. Hess Verdon is a probate and trust litigation firm in Orange County, California. We have over 30 years of experience helping clients with estate planning and administration cases, including the preparation of wills and revocable living trusts.
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Trust administration manages the assets in a trust according to the Trust’s terms to benefit the heirs and beneficiaries following the grantor’s death. Trust administration is a multi-step process that involves mountainous paperwork and dealings with courts. Working with a trust attorney can be instrumental in streamlining the whole process.
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