Talk of a future inheritance is something that parents and even grandparents like to mention and sprinkle into random conversations. Sometimes it’s innocent enough, as a source of pride for what they can give you later in life, and other times the motivations are less clear.
Dangling the Inheritance Carrot
With everyone being busy in the pursuit of money in the form of work, it’s unsurprising that sometimes relatives will dangle a carrot by talking about a future inheritance in a way to manipulate their siblings. It can be a sign of their fear of abandonment when they get older believing that the lure of money will keep relatives visiting them well into their old age. No doubt they worry about being able to take care of themselves and it’s their own little insurance policy. But it doesn’t always work and sometimes it backfires on them badly.
Inheritance as a Disincentive
Creating a family culture or a dynamic where money discussion seeps into different aspects of a perfectly pleasant family day often sours it. No every enjoys talking about a taboo subject like that during family time away from work when people should be relaxing.
Indeed, some relatives may eventually make the decision to stop visiting because it leaves a bad taste in their mouth. For them, family is all about a safe place to go home to where you shouldn’t be judged and where the rest of the world and its worries are left behind. When this idyllic ideal is shattered by wealthier older family members, then that’s their cue to leave and never come back.
Inheritance as a Significant Incentive
Overly sensitive relatives can decide to give up on family members and their talk of an inheritance in the offering for well-behaved siblings – a take care of me now and I’ll take care of you later, move – as self-defence for their moral base. For younger relatives, far less burdened with what other people might think, they likely see the disinterest by some relatives as their opportunity to ingratiate themselves with the older relatives while there’s still time.
While seeming perfectly harmless at first, over a period of several years, it’s possible that they become intertwined with the older relative’s life that they go so far as to change their will in the younger person’s favour. At this point, the die is cast for several will disputes from various parties who feel that this would be considered an unhealthy influence.
Certainly, if a party was known to once be in their senior’s will but in are no longer in a recent revision and the younger relative had been inserted in their place, this is how wills get contested and inheritances become problematic. And all because the testator, the older relative with the will, decided to use a future possible inheritance as a bargaining chip to curry favour in their last few years on Earth.
How Does Probate Usually Work?
In a good percentage of cases, the probate proceeds as one would expect. When the estate is not simply being passed to the other half of a couple with a joint will, then the assets of the deceased are valued or assessed in full. The executor of the will is looking to see what value each asset has and to consider what specific items were bequeathed to certain people in the will. A treasured clock goes to a brother and a bedspread to a daughter, and so on.
Typically, a home is sold off to pay off any inheritance probate taxes due, depending on the size of the estate. The balance remaining after paying for the legal services is distributed per the instructions in the will. Any people or companies that are still owed money are settled too, even though they may not have been discussed in the will directly.
Inheritance Disputes – Self-made Equals Self-inflicted
Plenty of inheritance disputes arise when wills are not produced correctly. Increasingly, the self-made will is becoming the bane of existence for many probate-focused solicitors who deal with estate management issues. The problem with self-made wills is that they are either unclear in their meaning about who should receive which assets, or they’re produced incorrectly. A lack of witnesses or a will being witnessed long after it was signed are causes to question its legality altogether. Proper witnesses due to its informality are also a regular issue with self-made wills.
Inheritance Disputes – Why Else Do They Happen?
When a will is made when not of sound mind and so the clauses are misunderstood, then inheritance experts like those at the-inheritance-experts.co.uk could be called in on behalf of an aggrieved party who feels they should have been included in the will. This tends to happen particularly when a will was changed within the last few years of a person’s life.
It opens the door to a lot of questions as to why they changed it, what was the primary reason for doing so, and were they influenced in any way at the time? Quite often, the change comes as a complete shock to other relatives who were not notified of any change to the will and only found out much later when news got around the family about who was getting the lion’s share of the inheritance. At that point, the trouble starts.
Inheritance Disputes – How Old Is Too Old to Sign a Will?
While as long as the person is physically able to hold a pen and sign their recognisable signature, they’re technically not too old, it’s not as simple as that. There’s the serious question of senility and the aging process with the brain to consider. A relative doesn’t have to suffer from either dementia or Alzheimer’s to find it difficult to remember things.
When you cannot remember key points, then your decision-making process comes into question. At that stage, clearly, you’re more easily led, and it could be suggested that while the decision to sign the will wasn’t coerced out of them in a forceful way, it could have occurred as a result of diminished capacity. When mental capacity comes into question, then the whole will could potentially be officially disputed by following the right process to do so. As a result, it is a challenging topic to change a will at an advanced age. It’s often where an inheritance is disputed and in many cases, rightly so.
In situations where relatives attempt to gain favour with siblings to encourage them to take care of them in exchange for the suggestion that they’ll be taken care of in their will, it creates problems to come later. Any sudden revisions to an existing will that go well beyond updating it with credible information and removing invalid references to sold off possessions, especially changes made at an advanced age, tend to cause many of the issues with disputes about inheritances.
If expectations are not managed responsibility, these types of things can easily tear the delicate fabric of the multi-generational family apart over arguments about money. Who did what, who did more and when they did it all become talking points over who should, who will, and who did receive most of the elderly relative’s estate. Whilst the senior member of the family may think their little nudges about the future inheritance isn’t doing any harm, it may only make matters worse when dealing with their loss.
Updated: January 29, 2018