When an aging parent dies, myth has it that the family will pull together to lovingly cope with the loss. But the highly publicized inheritance fights of the rich and famous are likely to strike unprepared families of all income levels.
All too often, parents themselves set the stage for feuds among their children by not establishing proper wills. As an elderly person loses control of his life, he often becomes frightened and makes conflicting promises to protect himself. To avoid inheritance battles, the Ladies' Home Journal offers these suggestions:Be sure the parent explains his-her actions to the children so there is no misunderstanding and no unpleasant surprises when the will is read.
If parents don't initiate a discussion regarding their will, their children should do so by looking for events that provide an opening, the death of a friend or a news story about a well-known family's financial battles.
Tact is essential. Children must stress their desire for family harmony by asking, without seeming greedy, to be apprised of their parents' wishes while they are alive.
It may be wise to include an outsider, such as a trusted family friend, lawyer or clergyman, in the discussions. They can often ease what could become a highly emotional situation.
If children seem likely to bicker after a parent's death, they should ask that an objective person be appointed executor so that they can preserve as much family harmony as possible.