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The warning signs of a family fight after you're gone

If you're the glue that holds your family together, what will happen after you die? Will your family descend into serious problems that involve intense fights and even legal battles over your estate? It's never easy to predict whether a particular family is at risk of fighting over a loved one's estate, but there are several warning signs you might want to look out for to judge whether or not this could happen to your family:

Sibling rivalries: It's not uncommon for a sibling rivalry to last a lifetime. In fact, even if it appears that two siblings have been getting along for years, family members could be surprised to find that they suddenly fall back into those old, familiar ruts after money is on the table. 

Economic disparity: When one child is rich and another child is poor, this could create a conflict during probate proceedings. For example, one child might want to hold onto a particular piece of property and wait for it to rise in value before liquidating it, while another sibling may feel pressured to sell it. Also, one sibling might feel like he or she deserves more of the estate due to a difficult economic circumstance.

Substance abuse or mental illness: When one family member is dealing with a substance or drug problem -- or some other variety of mental illness -- it can create a host of conflicts and difficulties while divvying up the family estate. Sometimes, the family with a mental illness will be acting in irrational or distrustful ways and it's difficult to engage in conflict resolution and/or settlement negotiations with someone like this.

Disinheritance: When a parent disinherits one child but not another, there is a high chance of disagreement and family fighting. In fact, the disinherited child could seek to invalidate the will by contesting it in court.

Unequal inheritances: When parents give more to one child than the other, the child who received more may feel unfairly treated and choose to challenge the validity of the will or estate plan.

Fortunately, there are estate planning strategies that Illinois residents may be able to employ to reduce the chances of serious family disagreements. Therefore, make sure that you explore all of your estate planning options regarding the various ways you can help keep your family together, even after you're no longer available to serve as the "glue" for your family.

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