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Top 5 Family Members Who Stir Up Trouble Following the Passing of a Loved One

I once read a quote from a famous singer who said, "It might look easy, but it ain't." The singer was referring to how people seemed to think that being successful was easy for him, but he knew all the hard work that went in behind the scenes to bring that success. Perhaps he could have been talking about the probate process. After all, the probate process might look easy, but it ain't.

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I've written before about what probate is and what the probate process is all about. You can access that article by clicking here. I've also written about the three main reasons a person would want to avoid probate. You can learn those reasons by clicking here.

But, sometimes, there are things you might not consider. That's why it is always good to hire an experienced Marietta Estate Planning Attorney like those found at The Farrell Law Firm. We will help you think about things you might not consider and help you avoid problems and probate.

Over the years, I have been hired by many families to assist them with their estate planning. Additionally, as part of my practice, I assist families through the probate process after a loved one has passed away. I've compiled this list from those experiences. Here are the Top 5 family members who stir up trouble following the passing of a loved one.

  • The Squatter - this is the family member who attempts to live in the house of the person who recently passed away. Often, this family member will attempt to live rent free and will do so for as long as possible much to the chagrin of the other family members.

My experience tells me that this person may have already been living in the house when the parent passed away. However, the parent may have left the home to be divided among all of the children, even those that don't live in the home. So, then, the problem becomes how the other siblings are compensated. The parent may not have considered this would become a problem when they passed away.

  • The Least-Favored Child - this is the family member who knows that they know that they know that mom and dad had a "favorite" child. This family member will fight over things of relatively insignificant value and sometimes hire a lawyer to represent them in the fight over mom and dad's sock collection.

I once represented a family member in a probate dispute that ultimately boiled down to the crockpot. The family really couldn't see the forest for the trees. Again, a seasoned and experienced Marietta Estate Planning Attorney could have assisted this family prior to the passing away of the family member.

  • The Poor-Communicator - this family member has been put in charge of settling mom and dad's estate and does a poor job of communicating with the rest of the family members. When this happens, the shunned family members will hire counsel when they feel they've done as much as they can which often forces the poor communicator to hire his own counsel.

I recently earned in excess of 5 figures representing one family member against the family's poor communicator. Ultimately, it was all resolved, but could have been easily avoided had some proper estate planning taken place.

  • The I'm-ready-now family member - this family member is ready to find out what mom and dad has in their home. Typically, another family member will feel that not enough time has passed and this will cause conflict between the family members.

This is a tough family dynamic to guard against. So many emotions are flowing during this time that it's difficult to anticipate which family members may need more time to grieve. However, there are some things that can be done to speed up the process so that the prospect of the process being drawn out is minimized. You can read about how a Revocable Living Trust would help a family avoid the probate process by clicking here.

  • Lord Fauntleroy - although this family member doesn't stir up trouble, the differences in the socio/economic status of his or her siblings will sometimes cause trouble when the siblings want to sell property for the immediate gain while this family member is able to sit on the asset for an indefinite period of time. This type of issue can typically be resolved by a good Marietta Estate Planning Attorney.

Often times, when the parents are sitting in my office planning their estate, they will tell me they have no concerns about their children because their children get along so splendidly. But, after the parents have passed away, the true colors of the children are displayed when the estate is going through probate. A better way to handle this type of situation is to avoid the probate process to begin with.

With a good estate plan in place, you can make things smooth and easy for your family and loved ones when you pass. If you'd like to discuss these issues and have your plan set up the right way, the first time, give us a call at (678) 809-4922.

John P. Farrell, Esq.

Mr. Farrell is the author of Estate Planning for the Modern Family: A Georgian's Guide to Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney. You can learn about his book here and learn more about John here. Join the more than 1,500 people who subscribe to his Newsletter here. Feel free to send John a message here.

At the Farrell Law Firm, PC, we represent Georgia residents in Marietta, Kennesaw, Acworth, Atlanta, Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Austell, Powder Springs, Clarkdale, Ball Ground, Canton, Holly Springs, Lebanon, Cartersville, Calhoun, Waleska, Woodstock, Alpharetta, Fairburn, Palmetto, Red Oak, Roswell, Dallas, Hiram, Dunwoody, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Cumming, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Bartow County, Fulton County, Douglas County, Gwinnett County, and Paulding County.