Help! My Siblings Are Fighting About Money and Property
Losing a parent is never easy. Even if you’ve been planning and expecting it for a while, you’ll still have to process the grief and loss while also figuring out how to handle their estate and execute their will. What can make this time even more difficult is when you’re also dealing with family conflict over inheritance rights. Sadly, family infighting is quite common when a loved one dies, and this is often seen with siblings.
If you’re in the Corpus Christi, Texas region, including South Texas and The Coastal Bend area, and want to learn about your options when siblings are fighting over inheritance, call me, Russell Manning Attorney at Law. I have the compassion, knowledge, and experience to assist your situation while keeping your family's best interests in mind.
Common Reasons Siblings Fight Over Inheritance
Of course, all families fight with each other at some point or another, but there are a few reasons why this happens regarding a parent’s inheritance:
Unclear or missing language in the will: If a will isn’t well-written or incomplete, it can make the deceased's wishes unclear.
Surprises in the will: If the family hasn’t seen the will, there may be surprises that they weren’t expecting and may think are unfair.
Unequal distribution: If a parent leaves more of their estate to one child than another, it can cause infighting.
Additional children: If the deceased had more children after they had completed their will but failed to update it, the left-out child may contest.
Dying Without a Will In Place
When a person dies without a will in place, known as dying intestate, Texas’s intestate succession laws take over, which dictate how the deceased’s estate will be distributed to their heirs. However, there will likely be some assets that are not a part of intestate succession, including:
Any property that’s co-owned with another person.
Retirement funds or IRAs that already have a named successor.
Life insurance policies with a named beneficiary.
Any real estate or vehicles that have a transfer on death deed.
Any assets held in a trust.
Intestate Succession for Children of the Deceased
If your parent left no will, you’ll be asking, “What do the children of a deceased parent inherit?” Texas law lays out different scenarios for distribution to heirs based on the person’s surviving family members. Spouse inheritance is also affected by what is considered “community” property and what is considered “separate” property.
When there is a surviving spouse: If the deceased was married and had no children or children, the spouse inherits 100% of the estate. If there are children, the spouse generally gets all of the community property and ⅓ of the separate property, while the children divide the rest.
When there is not a surviving spouse: If the deceased wasn’t married but had children, the children get everything. If they have no spouse and no children, the parents get everything. However, if they also have no surviving parents, the siblings get everything.
Options for Resolution
You should always try to resolve things within the family first, but if this isn’t working, you need to contact a probate attorney or a mediator to help you come to an agreement. Another option is to simply liquidate all the assets and split the proceeds equally among the siblings.
Alternatively, you can choose to appoint a fiduciary to the role of executor, who will then make the decisions about how assets should be split. For this to work, all siblings must agree to hire the same fiduciary. Lastly, you may choose to use a type of lottery system for distributing assets or take turns choosing one item at a time.
Peace of Mind Starts With One Call
For help in Corpus Christi, Texas, South Texas, or The Coastal Bend area, reach out to me, Russell Manning Attorney at Law. I can help with any and all your estate planning or probate needs.