|By Tim Grant, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
But the dark side of what will be the greatest transfer of wealth in history is that families are being torn apart by sibling rivalries that have emerged from bitter battles over their parents'? money.
"It'?s a relatively new phenomenon," said
Not too long ago it was a disgrace for families to fight over a will, and only the rich even dared to go that route. Today legal and financial professionals who handle estates say there is less shame in sisters and brothers suing each other when they feel a parent'?s will does not treat them fairly, and the amount of money and possessions they allow to come between them often are small.
"Many of these disputes stem from some longstanding sibling rivalry or discontent," said
"If the case is resolved through a settlement, it'?s more likely they will down the line heal wounds. But if it's a long protracted litigation that goes to trial, it's less likely they will recover, from what I'?ve seen."
Some of the major reasons for the inheritance battles, according to
People also are living longer, and the staggering number with Alzheimers and other elder issues and impairments means greater potential for fraud, undue influence and other issues involving family members. And there can be complex family structures due to second and third marriages, and children from multiple marriages.
When family businesses and real estate are involved in an inheritance, it adds to the complications.
An operating business can'?t just be divided in half or in thirds. Many complex issues arise as to who leads the business, who has the right to work there and who makes management decisions over the real estate.
It'?s best to make estate planning decisions while they are healthy and strong, not when frail.
Families fighting over money is nothing new. It'?s a topic as old as the hills, and it even happens in families of modest means, said
He dealt with a case 30 years ago where a son came back to
That would mean he and his sister would split a small estate equally.
"There was a happy ending to the story, but it took some coercion,"
"What I always say to my daughters -- and they laugh, but it makes the point -- is if they fight, they better believe in ghosts because I'm coming back."
(c)2014 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Visit the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at www.post-gazette.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services