Why sibling estate fights are different
Charles Ticker was recently interviewed about estate fights, specifically why sibling estate fights are different (full video here).
So what is so different about sibling estate fights? Siblings have known each other and their family their whole lives and the dispute may be rooted in something that happened during their childhoods. Often, the fight has nothing to do with the present but is caused by something in the family’s distant past.
Other generations of the family (such as the sibling’s children) may also be impacted by the dispute. For example, cousins may have poor relationships throughout their lives as a result of their parents’ dispute. This can result in many additional disputes in the extended family.
Another factor to consider is that if there is a long history of hostility among siblings, their only way of communicating over the years may have become fighting. For many siblings, fighting is something that they have been doing their whole lives. There are many psychological factors that are present in sibling disputes that are absent in business or commercial litigation.
Siblings involved in litigation often suffer a lot of stress which can some times even make individuals physically ill.
Sibling disputes may be more challenging to mediate
The reason for this is because the parties are often coming to the mediation with a lot of emotional baggage. Time should be spent at the mediation understanding the family history. Something may have happened way back in time when one of the parties was ten years that is still on their mind and is driving the dispute.
Although the siblings may be adults with their own families, they often act like children during litigation. This kind of behavior may manifest itself without the individual even realizing it. Another factor that may be driving the dispute is jealousy among the siblings. Due to the long history the siblings have, they may have secrets about each other. Parties will not hesitate to disclose this information if they feel it will give them an advantage. Mediating an sibling estate dispute involves a lot of emotions and the parties should aim to keep the temperature of the dispute down.
Often, money is not the main issue in a sibling dispute. It may be rivalry. The fight may be about who is going to the attorney for property or care or who is going to be the executor for their parents. No matter what ages the siblings are, they are always going to be the children of their parents. As a result, if they feel that they have not been treated fairly by a parent in a will, they are always going to take it personally.
When mediating a sibling dispute, it is very important to retain an mediator who understands the intricacies involved in these kinds of cases.