As Generation X’ers turn 50, more and more children are beginning to deal with their parents getting older. This means getting into the challenging affairs of health and wealth. Some parents are more open to discussing finances, while others have a secret stash of intertwined trusts ready to be unveiled to the children when they die. Money does funny things to people. Sometimes, those things are not so funny. For many years the scuttlebutt that goes on between brothers and sisters can turn wildly unharmonious when money starts to pass from one generation to another.
Whether you have one sibling or multiple siblings, didn’t you as a family have a running joke about who Mom and Dad loved the most? Of course you did because this is the norm amongst families. One child was the most gifted with grades, one child was the most gifted with sports, and one child was coined the ‘good child’. As you grew older, naturally jobs and family life may have grown your physical distance with mom and dad. It is commonplace that one daughter or son is the one down the street from mom and dad, and that’s usually the one who feels ‘more deserving’ of the money when mom and dad pass away down the road.
So, what is really the root cause of why siblings fight about their future inheritance? (This is not an end all be all list, but it will get your brain moving.)
- One (or more) siblings haven’t done as financially well as other siblings and need the money.
- One (or more) siblings feel they have ‘earned it’ while the other siblings haven’t done their fair share.
- One (or more) siblings feel the other siblings are irresponsible and won’t put good use to the money.
- Some siblings have children and the other(s) don’t have children.
- Lack of knowledge
- Lack of trust
- Inequities and disparities based upon how each sibling has framed up the situation in their head.
We work with many families who inherit trusts or other assets, and the battle is becoming more commonplace all the time. If at all possible, this is the one time it makes sense to spend the money to get all the siblings around the table to talk it out amongst yourselves. Remember, without cooperation amongst your siblings, the only ones who will win will be the attorneys. Remember, money can buy you things but ultimately it cannot make you happy. Remember, get good people by your side so you know what to do when this happens. Blood may not always be thicker than money!