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Sibling rivalry to be anticipated during estate planning

Some level of sibling rivalry exists in most families. New Jersey readers may identify with one sibling believing that the brother or sister always received more attention, more money and nicer clothes. Such feelings can resurface upon a parent's death, and it is not uncommon for one sibling to contest a will that leaves more to the other sibling. In many cases, the "favored" child is appointed as the administrator or executor of the estate. Sometimes, parents fail to keep sibling rivalry in mind during their estate planning.

If one sibling decides to sue, the other or others will receive a summons, and the process of probate litigation is initiated. This is naturally not something the average person is faced with regularly, and one may be uncertain about how to proceed. There is a time limit for one to respond, and because this is an extremely complicated area of the law, it may be beneficial to retain the services of an experienced estate attorney. Failing to follow the required procedures during the time period one has to respond may lead to a ruling in favor of the other sibling.

Various reasons exist for siblings to file lawsuits to contest a will. These may include a claim that one person exercised excessive influence on the deceased parent to change the will. A sibling may claim that the parent suffered from dementia and lacked testamentary capacity or that another will exists, and he or she may demand the one to be declared invalid.

A legal representative will take care of the formal administration, which will likely include advising creditors of the death by filing notices. This will enable the creditors to file claims against the estate. A New Jersey estate attorney will be familiar with the statutes, the case law and the rules. He or she will guide you through the proceedings, and if any additional issues arise, he or she will endeavor to resolve it quickly and efficiently. Such disputes may encourage rivaling siblings to address such issues when doing their own estate planning.

Source: floridatoday.com, "Financial Q&A: Sibling contesting wills is common", Stephen Lacey, Dec. 15, 2014

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