What you are about to read are some common situations that may indicate that an inheritance dispute is looming in your family.
- Your father and brother have a very large joint bank account. In fact this large bank account represents the money from your mother’s estate that went to your father under her Will. The only reason your brother is being named as a joint owner is because he lives in the same place as your father and you live 300 kilometres away. You have been told that as a joint owner the joint bank account will go to your brother when your father dies.
Will your brother share the joint bank account with you when Dad dies?
- Your Mum always trusted you and you always looked after her. She appointed you as her Attorney so that you could help her in managing her financial affairs. Always acting in your Mum’s best interests, you bought what she needed and made sure she was always provided for. Your sisters, who were spared the burden of managing your Mum’s financial affairs, never seemed to mind these arrangements. However, after your Mum dies, they suddenly begin to question many of the expenses that you paid out of her bank account under the Power of Attorney. You sense a new feeling of mistrust when they insist on a full accounting from you for the first time.
Are you prepared to answer their questions and do have sufficient financial records for all expenses that you paid on behalf of your late Mum whilst her Attorney?
- Your older sister is always bragging about how she is always suing people and winning. For example, she likes to talk about the fact that she sued a business because she slipped over on something spilled on their floor. She is proud of the fact that she is always wearing people down until they give in, and lets you know that she is not afraid to go to Court. Your older sister is a bully, and to her, litigation is a game.
Will you be able to stand up to her if she starts a Family Provision Claim over your parent’s Estate?
- Your brother-in-law is very controlling. When your sister got married to him, she stopped coming to family functions. He is also very cold to you. Now you find out that your sister is following his lead. Your sister rarely sees your Dad anymore.
When your Dad dies and leaves her out of his Estate will he push her into a battle with you over your Dad’s Estate?
- Dad confides in you, always telling you how much he trusts you. Recently, he told you that because you are the eldest child, you are the one who will be the best to look after his Estate. He tells you this in confidence, wanting you to promise to say nothing to your brothers and sisters. He then appoints you as the sole executor of his estate.
Will your siblings be so jealous that they will look for any way to have you removed as your Dad’s Executor?
- When you and your siblings get together at Mum’s house, everyone always admires the expensive painting in the lounge room. Mum does not want to make any specific provision in her Will to cover this painting. She believes that all of her children will “work it out”.
How will you feel if the painting ends up hanging on your brother’s wall?
- Your sister lives well above her means. In fact, she has a job that pays nowhere near enough to support her lifestyle. She has massive debts, but feels that in the end, she will have nothing to worry about. Her reasoning is that her inheritance from your parents will resolve all of her financial dramas. Your sister is the “waiter” – she is waiting for her inheritance.
Will she fight to get as much as she can to continue to support her lifestyle at your expense?
- Your brother has moved away and lives overseas in London. Except for the occasional telephone call at Christmas and for your parents birthday’s, he has no contact with the family. Dad tells you that it would be unfair to your brother to receive as much as you under his Will. Dad intends to leave your brother a very small amount in the Will.
Will your brother accept a lesser amount than you?
- Everyone laughs about how bad Mum’s memory is. Mum is always forgetting where she puts her keys. She repeats the same stories over and over again. There are times when she calls you by your sister’s name and calls your brother by your name. But now Mum wants to give you a deposit for a new home.
Will your brothers and sister challenge Mum’s gift to you, alleging Mum’s lack of mental capacity?
- You are the only one of your siblings who sees your Dad on a regular basis. Your other siblings are far too busy with their own families. You take your Dad to all of his doctor’s appointments, you take him shopping, and you take him to do his banking. When it comes time for Dad to make a new Will, he tells you he wants to leave you more than your siblings. He asks you take him to your lawyer.
Will your siblings claim the Will is invalid because you pressured your Dad into making a new Will?
- You and your sister disagree about everything. Your Mum has appointed you and your sister as joint executors of her Estate.
What will happen after your Mum dies and you can’t agree?
- You have always worked hard and earned enough money to live comfortably. Your sister is a no-good slouch who does not have a job and lives on Centrelink. From the way your Mum is talking, you get the feeling that she believes that your sister needs the inheritance more than you do.
Will you be upset and look for ways to get what you think is fair and make a claim on the Estate?
- Mum and Dad gave your brother money for a university degree. They gave you a lot more money to help you buy your new house.
What will happen when you brother finds out that you got a lot more than he did?
- Your Dad got remarried five years ago. You are his only child, but his wife has three sons from her first marriage. You always felt that Dad would protect you if anything happened to him. But now he is going to a lawyer to do his Will and tells you that he is going to leave everything to your step mother. You know that this will include your grandmother’s heirlooms and very expensive jewellery, which Mum gave to him. He says not to worry because your step mother will leave these things to you in her Will.
Will your step mother make a Will that respects your Dad’s wishes?
The above common situations should act as warning signs which demonstrate how issues that may not be problematic whilst your Mum and Dad are alive and in charge can ultimately turn their death into World War III.
Whilst your parents are alive and healthy, siblings thoughts and feelings are still on the scene, keeping a lid on any potential bombs. But, when the parent is gone, the restraints are lifted and sometimes these bombs explode causing all out war between siblings, step parents and other family members.
A properly constructed will and a power of attorney are crucial documents to ensure all family members are protected – particularly children.
So if you are concerned – How do you get peace of mind? Simple – with one appointment at Attwood Marshall Lawyers with our specialised and highly experienced lawyers who will provide you with the advice that you require to prepare for any potential issues that may arise upon the death of a family member or loved one or that you are currently experiencing now. Contact Melissa Tucker on 07 5562 2498 or our Department Manager Donna Tolley on direct line 07 5506 8241 or freecall 1800 621 071 for a free initial consultation.