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Legal specialist in providing Later Life estate planning solutions and advising vulnerable clients.

Study finds sibling rivalry lasts to adulthood and threatens inheritance

14 Jan 2022  by Gavin Ball  Wills

Study finds sibling rivalry lasts to adulthood and threatens inheritance image

A study has shown that sibling rivalry lasts into adulthood, with arguments continuing down the years over sensitive issues.

A poll commissioned by NOW found that a quarter of adults still argue with their siblings. Some 26% compete with a brother or sister over their career while 22% bicker about home ownership.

Over 20% argue about who is the favourite child, with a further 20% competing over cooking skills.

Other areas of competition included holidays, parenting abilities and who has the best car.

The research also found that older siblings are the most competitive as well as being the most successful. Sisters tend to be more competitive than brothers.

Some 17% of those questioned said they had felt sibling rivalry throughout their lives, with 43% saying it increases around the time of special occasions such as Mother’s Day and birthdays, with competition to organise the best celebration or buy the best gift.

Competition drove 15% to try to outdo their sibling when it comes to having a successful career, with 23% achieving this goal.

What are the consequences of this when it comes to dealing with the death of a parent?

Emotions can run high after a death and where siblings have a sometimes-tense relationship, there is a risk that disputes could arise.

If the deceased did not leave a Will, then their estate will pass in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy. These set out a strict order in which family members will inherit. For example, if the deceased left a spouse and children, the spouse will inherit the first £270,000 from the net estate plus the deceased’s personal possessions. The remainder of the estate will be split as to 50% to the spouse and 50% to be shared between the deceased’s children. Stepchildren will not inherit anything.

The estate will also need an administrator, who will generally need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration, giving them authority to deal with the winding up. There could be some dispute as to who should take on this role if the deceased did not leave a Will.

If the deceased does not leave a spouse, then their children will share their estate, to include their personal possessions. This gives substantial scope for disagreement over who gets what.

Having no Will and there being sibling rivalry that has turned into open dispute means the parent who has died now does not have any control over who inherit their hard-earned money and property and the children may not be happy with who inherits what asset, and this could lead to contentious wars over the inheritance and court disputes and a lot of extra cost and less inheritance.

Writing a Will

If you leave a Will you have the chance to set out exactly what you want to happen after your death. You can specify who you want to receive various possessions and who you would like to act as your executor and deal with the administration of your estate.

You can also leave a letter with your Will if you wish, explaining why you made the choices you did.

If your family know exactly what your wishes were, there is less likely to be a dispute when the time comes. If you leave a well-drafted Will, there is also less scope for a family member to challenge the situation or bring a successful claim.

With evidence that disagreements between siblings can continue long-term, putting the right Will in place is more important than ever.

Don’t delay in putting your Will in place. Ensure that you deal with all the risks and traps of writing a Will by engaging an expert lawyer who is aware of the issues that must be addressed to see that your inheritance goes where you want it to go. Gavin Ball Later Life Planning Ltd are specialists in dealing with vulnerable clients and writing Wills that meet their estate planning needs. Ring us on 01404813676 or email us on gavin@gavinball.co.uk.

With thanks to Liza Summer from Pexels for the blog image.

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