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Will There Be A Family Inheritance Feud After Your Death?

By September 16, 2012Estate Planning

Is your family perfect? Everyone gets along at the family reunions? There are never arguments or disagreements and everyone is always in perfect accord?  If that is the case, you are very lucky.  However, unfortunately, when one passes away and emotions are running high, last expenses need to be paid, and final distributions need to be done – stress and contention can start to mount even in the closest and most loving families.

The loss of a family member,especially a parent, can cause even the perfect family to be torn apart at your death. Why can a family feud erupt after one passes away? Perhaps one child was always thought of as the “black sheep” that doesn’t deserve anything; or the favorite child seems to have always gotten more growing up.

After a loved one passes away, most often it is the items without monetary value which cause the biggest problems between family members.  Generally these items hold a high sentimental value. For example, who will get mom’s diamond wedding ring when there are three daughters?  The secret family recipe?  The tools in the shed? The artwork in your parent’s home?

Family feuds can be expensive and time consuming, and, most unfortunately, can ruin family relationships forever. Following the steps below can minimize and often even avoid a family feud from happening at your death:

  1. Prepare legal documents, such as a Will or Trust, and Powers of Attorney for incapacity.
  2. Consider consequences of unequal distribution to children.  If you do choose to give unequal distributions, explain your reasoning so your children do not feel hurt or shunned.
  3. Consider appointing a third party to administer the estate to avoid conflicts of interest and distrust between family members.
  4. Hold annual family member meetings with everyone present to discuss your decisions; any loans to family members, location of estate planning documents, etc.

Start planning today to prevent your family from fighting after your death. If you do, a plan will be in place for what to do if something terrible happens. If you don’t, your family could be torn apart forever.


What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

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  • Deborah H. says:

    I have a question in Washington State, can you assist me. Or, is there someone I can talk to. My parents are still living, my mother has alzheimer’s, my sister’s older convinced my father to have them as executor and executrix. They do not care for me at all. Nothing other than sibling rivalry. I am not included in any holiday’s. Knowing that when my parents die, they will have control of the assets, and I will have 1/3 share of a house that will sit empty and pay for things, is ridiculous. What can I do, whom can I call.

    • Morris, Hall & Kinghorn says:

      Hi Deborah,

      We practice law in Arizona and New Mexico and can not give guidance for Washington State as the laws often vary from state to state. We recommend finding an estate planning attorney in Washington. You should look for an attorney that is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Lawyers. If you go to their website ( you can look up qualified attorneys in your area. Best of luck!

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