Houser Firm

Why some families fall out over wills 

On Behalf of | May 9, 2024 | Trust & Estate Litigation

Estate planning largely revolves around an individual making plans for when they die. A will is a crucial component in this process. It can outline who should receive different types of assets.

When a loved one passes away, this can be very upsetting for friends and family members. Sadly, due to the hecticness of modern life, funerals are among the rare occasions all family members and close friends come together as one. This can be an effective means of support to get through the loss. Unfortunately, it can also be a source of dispute. 

Money has the potential to bring out the worst in people, and disputes over a will are not uncommon. Why do some families fall out over wills? 

A perceived unfairness 

Ultimately, a will should reflect the wishes of the testator. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that all family members will agree with its terms. A family member may become disgruntled that someone else is receiving a higher value of assets. Or, someone may feel aggrieved that another person is set to receive a sentimental family heirloom. 

One way that testators can prevent such disputes is by having open and honest estate planning conversations prior to and after drafting the will. It can help family members to know the reasoning behind decisions. For instance, a larger sum of money may have been given to a family member who has had some expensive medical bills to cope with and has been out of work. A family heirloom may have been passed on to a certain individual because they always admired it.  

Undue influence 

Families may also fall out over a will if undue influence is present. Undue influence occurs when an individual asserts pressure on the testator to draft terms in a certain way, usually in the influencer’s favor. As mentioned, money can bring out the worst in people. A distant family member may purposely become less distant in an attempt to assert undue influence on the testator to include them generously in the will. 

By seeking legal guidance during the estate planning process, the prospect of family disputes can also be reduced.