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Carrying Out Final Wishes

Dodging family feuds while administering an estate

Elderly parents with several adult children sometimes elect to choose one child to be the executor of their estates when they die. This may give them comfort to think that they carefully selected the fairest and most responsible of their brood to carry out their final intentions, but this choice can foment bad blood between the siblings.

Problems often arise when the child chosen to administer the estate makes executive decisions with which the other siblings disagree. Even when the estate administrator is following directives in a parent's will, decisions must be made that can be quite unpopular.

For instance, if the family home is left to three siblings, how will that be disbursed? Will the property be sold on the market, or will one sibling buy out the other two and live in the former family dwelling? What if a consensus can't be achieved? Does it get settled by majority vote?

These can be thorny issues for an estate administrator to manage and siblings can accuse the one in charge of manipulating circumstances to achieve personal gain for his or her own self. Even if that is not actually the case, it may appear to be, which is enough to start a feud.

Certainly fracturing family ties was never a parent's intent when naming one child to be in charge of the estate. Yet it is frequently the result. For this reason, it is often preferable to name a neutral party to administer the estate. When that wasn't done, however, the administrator might be able to defuse a tense situation by retaining an estate administration lawyer to handle the tasks.

Source: A Place for Mom, "Estate Planning: 4 Things Siblings Feud Over," accessed April 01, 2016

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