Cain and Abel: When Siblings Despise Each Other

There are no perfect families. Even the first biblical family had an extreme sibling rivalry (with some rather bad results). And while most of us don’t have to worry about such an extreme outcome, many parents do worry that their children will not play well in the estate sandbox as their parents age and pass away.

The worries:

  • One child helps mom and dad as they age, is given a lot of money prior to and after their passing, and the other child brings a lawsuit for absconding with the money that they feel is one half theirs.
  • One child helps mom and dad as they age, is given the same amount of money as the child who did nothing, and resents the other sibling forever.
  • One child helps mom and dad as they age, takes a substantial amount of money, and there is a lawsuit by the other child for absconding with the money.
  • A more-needy child is given more from their parents, and the other child resents the sibling who got more attention forever.
  • At the death of the second spouse one child runs to the house / safe depsosit box / etc. and takes family jewelry, loose cash, etc.

At death, mom’s desire to fix family differences and dad’s lecturing on how her meddling is disruptive, ceases. At that point sibling spite comes down to one thing: Money. Perceived entitlement and revenge are exacted through mom and dad’s cash.

The solution is actually simple, make both children:

  • Agents who MUST work with each other as Power of Attorneys
  • Named as Executors who must serve together,
  • Recipients of the parent’s bank accounts statements, etc.

All expensive personal property should either be given away during life or cataloged. Having a third party involved, such as a social worker or an attorney (who represents you) allows an impartial third party to get involved and decrease any urges to abscond with property or give substandard care.

In conclusion: When siblings can’t trust one another, force them to trust one another.

Q FOR U: Do you feel as though one child will take better care of you than another child?

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