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Cutting someone out of a will can lead to a family rift

On Behalf of | Jul 3, 2018 | Estate Planning |

Did your parents leave unequal amounts to different family members in a will? Or perhaps they cut someone out entirely.

They do have a right to do this. It’s their will. It’s their estate. However, these decisions can have long-term ramifications. This one choice could cause a rift between family members that never heals.

An example: Aunts and cousins

A good example of this starts off with a woman whose father passed away when she was relatively young — a college student. She still talked to her grandmother, her father’s mother, and even visited a handful of times annually. She would call her grandmother on the phone during her younger years, though her grandmother’s deteriorating mental state made that hard as she aged.

The woman also had some cousins and aunts on that side of the family — her father’s sisters. They lived far closer to her grandmother and took care of her.

Initially, her grandmother kept the granddaughter in the will, essentially giving what would have been her father’s share to her. Her aunts also got their shares. The will was set up this way in 2007 and then reaffirmed in 2012. Her family would not get cut out of the inheritance just because her father passed away early.

Then, a week before her own passing, her grandmother allegedly changed her mind, cutting her father’s share out entirely. All the money went to the aunts.

This led to a long legal battle where the woman had to fight for what she thought of as her own share of the assets. Her aunts argued that they had been around, physically caring for the grandmother, and so she wanted the money to go to them, rather than younger relatives who lived farther away and didn’t visit all that often.

In the end, the woman got about $100,000, but she had to split it with her own siblings. It was also a small percentage of a multi-million dollar estate.

The cost of the entire ordeal was incredibly high on a relationship level: She and her siblings never talk to their father’s side of the family anymore. These are people they have known for years, whom they grew up with, but they do not speak at all. The aunts insulted her and said she was being greedy, while she felt like they maliciously worked to get her grandmother to take away her inheritance.

Your rights

You need to know that people’s true colors sometimes come out when their parents pass away. An unequal or unfair will could be an indicator of undue influence as family members try to undermine each other. This often happens with those who never expect it. Make sure you know all of your legal rights.