10 Ways to Avoid Sibling Conflicts After a Parent Passes

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The loss of a parent is a painful enough experience, but the added stress and strain of handling an estate can leave you grieving the loss of your wits as well. If a parent has made prior arrangements, the process smooths out considerably, but not everyone plans ahead. Whichever situation you find yourself in, you’ll find some suggestions below that can ease your pain in more ways than one. Here then are ten ways to avoid sibling conflicts when a parent dies:

  1. Ideally, parents should have a will drawn up in order to establish the distribution of their estate at their passing. Taking the guesswork, or squabbling, out of the situation by stipulating exactly who gets what will alleviate a lot of tension.
  2. Parents should ask their children beforehand what they would like to have, with no guarantee that they’ll get it just for asking. It does, however, give the parent an idea of how to begin designating which of their heirs gets specific items.
  3. Hire an appraiser. A professional appraiser can determine the dollar value of the estate, item by item. This can help determine an equitable distribution of all of the parent’s possessions. If the parent hasn’t already done this, then it can be a starting point the siblings can work from.
  4. Let old grudges die with the deceased. In emotionally-charged circumstances like the loss of a parent, petty grievances dating back to childhood can easily surface. This can cloud one’s judgment and lead to arguments over even the most trivial details. Let that stuff go.
  5. In cases where more than one sibling wants to have an item, consider selling it and dividing the proceeds, or simply donating the item to charity. Alternately, everyone can agree how to determine who gets what and stick to that arrangement.
  6. If there is a will, it’s a good idea to wait a week or so after the funeral before its reading. Give everyone time to get their emotions settled, and allow for some grieving before dealing with estate issues.
  7. Items that have not been designated, or whose recipient is for one reason or another unresolved should be placed in a neutral location – a safe deposit box or storage unit for larger items – until the matter can be settled to everyone’s satisfaction.
  8. Get everything in writing. Whether in the form of a will drawn up by the parent in advance, or as a contract agreed upon by each sibling, make sure everyone is on the same page and sticks to the agreement.
  9. If no resolution can be made among the family, then as a last resort an attorney should be hired to act as executor, or to resolve disputes equitably among the parent’s children. Whoever may be employed to handle disputes ought to also be agreed upon by all siblings
  10. Above all, make sure everyone abides by the principle that the life and legacy of a deceased loved one is to be honored. Every decision should be made with this fact foremost in each sibling’s mind.
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