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Estate disputes: Disinheritances and unfair distributions

Have you ever heard of a family fighting over a parent or grandparent's estate? Did you just shake your head, wondering how it could have come to this? Maybe you saw how the estate dispute caused irreparable damage to the heirs' relationships.

While estate disputes can happen for many reasons, two of the biggest ones to watch out for are disinheritances and unfair distributions.

Cutting someone out

A disinheritance is when you cut a person out of the will entirely. Perhaps you have four children. Three of them are still close to you, but one of them told you he or she wanted nothing to do with the family and moved to California 20 years ago. You have never spoken since. You may opt to leave that child out of the will.

Your will may stand, but that does not mean the child you left out will not claim fraud, duress or some other factor caused him or her to be cut off from the family fortune.

Unfair distributions

Even when you do leave everyone in the will, giving different amounts to different children often leads to disputes. You may think it seems fair. For instance, you could leave your successful child less money than a child who has very little, knowing the successful child does not want for anything and doesn't need the money. That makes sense on your end, but that child may contest the will, feeling punished for his or her success.

This isn't to say you cannot disinherit someone or leave someone less than anyone else, but you just need to carefully consider all of your options and the potential outcomes when doing estate planning.

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