When a loved one passes away, it isn’t uncommon for family members to become entangled in a dispute about their inheritance. If you will be the executor to your parents’ estate, you can end up having to deal with these squabbles and may need to work with an estate litigation attorney to resolve them.

Before you end up at that point, here are 7 reasons these inheritance disputes begin:

  1. You will be sharing the estate executor duty with someone else.
  2. Someone believes your loved one changed their will because of undue influence. Often, if your parent or loved one needed care in their last years, a caregiver could see that as an opportunity to influence them to change their will. You should pay attention to how close your parent or loved one is with their caregivers and watch for signs that they are receiving pressure to change their will.
  3. You and your siblings or the other beneficiaries have a large disparity in income. Those who have a significantly lower income may try to convince other beneficiaries to split their inheritance differently.
  4. A beneficiary has an addiction or mental health problem. In either case, an inheritance dispute can start because the person with the addiction or mental health issue wants a greater inheritance. Your loved one can avoid this by setting up a special needs trust to better manage the inheritance for this family member.
  5. One sibling or beneficiary already has received part of their inheritance before your loved one passes away. Lots of families have family members who struggle to support themselves. Perhaps, your parents bailed out your sister, so she didn’t have to foreclose on her house after a divorce. This could become an issue among your siblings when you distribute your parents’ assets.
  6. You and your siblings don’t have a relationship, or your siblings were estranged from your parents and maybe even left out of the will.
  7. Your parent had a late-in-life marriage and didn’t update their will. Now, their spouse wants their assets, and you and your siblings are unsure how that will affect your inheritance. Your parent can avoid this by updating their will to include their spouse, but also protect their children’s inheritance.

Grief over the loss of a parent or loved one quickly can turn into frustration and anger during the settling of an estate. Making sure your parent or loved one has an updated will, which wasn’t drafted under pressure from anyone, is a good first step in avoiding a dispute over the estate.