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Toxic Siblings After Their Parents' Death

Probate Litigation Attorney

Toxic siblings after their parents’ death

Siblings are not legally entitled to inheritance unless both parents are deceased. Inheritance rights may also be validated when the surviving spouse is incapacitated. Circumstances surrounding inheritance rights

depend on whether the parents left a will or not. Even with a will, factors

such as a toxic sibling relationship or having to deal with an estranged sibling can still cause problems.

If you have been assigned the duty of asset and trust execution, it is best to be aware of siblings’ rights after their parents’ death. Most importantly, you need to figure out how to deal with toxic family members and estranged siblings, which we all discuss in this post.

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Toxic siblings after their parents’ death

What are siblings’ rights after their parent’s death?

The rights will either be dictated by the lack of or presence of the will. For instance, if the parent left a will, siblings may have the right to a share of assets as detailed in the will. The beneficiaries of a will or trust have the legal right to request and receive information about the distribution of assets from the trustee. An attorney typically facilitates this process.

The right to contest the will

If you have been excluded from a will, you may have the

right to contest it. This is only true if you were included in the previous

will but excluded from the new one. This issue usually happens when the will has been changed after the parents’ death. Therefore, suing for invalidity can help clear up any doubts.

The right to dismiss the trustee or contest the shares of other siblings

When trustees perform poorly, the siblings can band together and have them removed through a probate court. Also, if the assets are not distributed according to the will, the siblings have the right to take legal action.

No will or trust? What are siblings’ rights after their parents’ death?

If there is no will or if it has been ruled invalid by the court, you have a right to a probate hearing, which is the court-supervised process of distributing the deceased person’s assets.

The court also safeguards against accidental omissions from the will. Parents sometimes create a trust soon after the firstborn is born and forget to include the second child, despite having no intention of

disinheriting them. In this instance, the court will presume the omission accidental, thus entitling the child to the deceased’s property.

However, the court will follow the estate planning paperwork if the omission was deliberate.

Are you worried about being burdened by a toxic sibling? Here is what you should anticipate

They are oblivious to trust laws

A toxic sibling is like a second parent, except that instead of telling you what to do with your life, they try to control how you handle the estate. If you’re the executor, be prepared for them to ignore your role and try to tell you what to do with the assets. They might even play the favorites card and try to get you to give them a larger share.

They are always there to blame you

Sibling rivalry is common when it comes to the execution of trusts and wills. If there’s one thing that siblings can agree on, it’s that

they want what’s fair. But what happens when one sibling feels like they’re getting the short end of the stick? In many cases, the other sibling will find a way to weasel out of the agreement. Whether it’s based on transparency or the unequal distribution of assets, there’s always a way for the sibling who ends up with less to make a play for what they feel they’re entitled to.

They make discouraging comments

Your sibling knows you better than anyone else, which means their criticisms hurt the most. They may say anything to prove you’re incapable of being the estate executor. Toxic siblings have a persistent lack of understanding toward their other siblings. Such habits might take the

form of cutting remarks concerning physical problems, financial difficulties, or job obstacles.

They are deceptive

A toxic sibling is like weeds in a garden. They can easily rally other siblings to dispute a valid trust. You should expect conflicts over transactions that involve your toxic siblings.

How to deal with toxic family members

Now that you know what a toxic sibling might be capable of, it’s time to brace for the worst. To begin with, you need to:

Gather all relevant paperwork

Aside from a will, you’ll need to track down any life insurance policies, bank balances, or properties your parents may have had. These records will be necessary to show your entitlement to a bequest and to settle

inheritance disputes.

Ascertain the executor’s legitimacy

It may come as a shock to some, but when your parents die, it’s not easy at all. One of the things you’ll have to deal with is figuring out who gets what. And if you’re lucky enough to be named in the will or trust, you might even have to take on the role of executor or trustee. That

means you’ll be responsible for distributing your parents’ assets and ensuring everything goes according to their wishes. So, if you’re looking for a fun way to spend your inheritance, you might want to think again.

Talk to an attorney

If you think the will may have been forged or that there are

omissions, your best course of action is to speak to a lawyer. They can help you resolve any problems through the probate process. Additionally, they can offer clarity on your rights and advise you if you might need legal counsel. A lawyer will also be needed to arbitrate out-of-court agreements.

Talk about the trust’s assets

It is beneficial for siblings to agree on how they wish to share assets prior to the commencement of probate, even if there are no legal responsibilities surrounding asset distribution. While your parents’ desires may be unambiguous on record, there could be points of contention or murky sections that require one-on-one talks. A probate lawyer can mediate these talks.

Figure out a way to distribute sentimental properties

If a parent passes away, it can be challenging to split up

their belongings, especially if there are items of sentimental value. However, if you have an opportunistic sibling, they may try to take advantage of the situation and keep everything for themselves.

One way to avoid this is to list all the valuables and reinvest them into the estate. You could also sell any sentimental assets and divide the cash among your siblings. This way, everyone gets a fair share, and you can avoid conflict.

Divide the family inheritance systematically

Toxic siblings often want what their parents had — especially if it’s something that they remember their parents fighting over. If you’re the executor, it’s best to deal with these items first. To avoid arguments, list these items and who wants them. Be sure to include why they want it. Doing so will help you determine the most critical issue.

How to deal with estranged siblings

After a parent passes away, it is not uncommon for their children to reunite as a family. Thus, you may surprisingly hear from estranged siblings. And, if they have made contact with you, it is essential to keep them in mind when you are carrying out the role of executor. It is also crucial to be aware that they may contest the original will or trust, especially if they are not included in the beneficiary plan. 

Ways to deal with an estranged sibling include:

Checking if they were written out of the will

There’s always a risk that your estranged siblings will contest your parent’s will and try to claim a share of the inheritance. But if you can find details in the will regarding their inheritance, you’ll have a strong case to refute their claims. And remember, even if your parents didn’t

explicitly disinherit your siblings in the will, they might have left a letter

explaining their reasons for doing so. If there’s ever a dispute of your trust, the note of disinheritance in the will, along with this letter, may be used during probate hearings.

Checking if they are entitled to a smaller inheritance

When your estranged sibling is not fully written out of an inheritance, the best case scenario is that your parents will state their entitlement to a small inheritance. It will be less than other beneficiaries, but it reduces the likelihood of trust contests from the estranged sibling. If a no-contest clause is included in the trust, the estranged sibling may still contest the trust or the will, but they will lose their inheritance rights if their contest is rejected.

Reading the testamentary trust

A parent may disinherit an estranged child for fear of bad spending habits. However, if the estranged child’s inheritance is documented in a testamentary trust, the executor will have more control over how the assets are distributed. This trust may be conditional, meaning that the beneficiary’s inheritance could depend on whether they meet certain criteria, such as avoiding drug abuse or getting a job.

Wrapping up

When a parent passes away, things are much easier if they leave a will or trust behind. It ensures that their assets will be distributed smoothly and according to their wishes. If there is no will, the distribution of property will have to be decided by the probate court. Even in this case, variables can affect the smooth execution of the will, such as estranged or toxic siblings. As an executor, you should watch for these potential problems and do everything transparently to avoid squabbles.

If you’re wondering about your inheritance rights as an estranged sibling, the will or testamentary trust usually has details. But if you’re in doubt, reach out to a probate attorney for guidance.

 

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Hess-Verdon & Associates, PLC
620 Newport Center Drive Suite 1400
Newport Beach, California, 92660
Office: (949) 706-7300 
Toll Free: (888) 318-4430

Copyright © 2022 Hess-Verdon, PLC. All rights reserved. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. The verdicts and settlements listed on this site are intended to be representative of cases handled by Hess-Verdon & Associates, PLC. These listings are not a guarantee or prediction of the outcome of any other claims. The information contained on this website is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney.

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Request a Case Review Today Call us at 888-318-4430Duties of an Executor of an estate What They Can and Cannot Do An executor is a person who has the legal responsibility to carry out the instructions of a will. The duties of an executor can be complicated and...

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JOIN HESS-VERDON CHARITABLE GIVING PROGRAM

We are excited to be able to offer 501(c)(3)’s the ability to accept charitable remainder trusts
Learn more about receiving trust donations.

ADDRESS

Hess-Verdon & Associates, PLC
620 Newport Center Drive Suite 1400
Newport Beach, California, 92660
Office: (949) 706-7300 
Toll Free: (888) 318-4430

Copyright © 2022 Hess-Verdon, PLC. All rights reserved. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. The verdicts and settlements listed on this site are intended to be representative of cases handled by Hess-Verdon & Associates, PLC. These listings are not a guarantee or prediction of the outcome of any other claims. The information contained on this website is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney.

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