Dysfunctional Families Result In Disinheritances

Dysfunction

Forty  years of litigating contested estates has led me to conclude that dysfunctional families are much more inclined to result in disinheritances

The reason is rather simple-dysfunctional families are toxic.

I have no statistics to back up this assertion other than anecdotal as I venture to say that virtually all of my clients have come from a family that is almost by definition dysfunctional .

This is not to say that so-called functional families do not get involved in estate litigation as of course they do, but it often has a different flavor in that the legal issues may be more technical in nature as opposed to vitriolic and hostile as  dysfunctional family litigation can be.

I read in a news report approximately 30 years ago that one out of three people and British Columbia expected to be disinherited.

Not to believe everything in the news, of course, but again anecdotally, I have over the years come to estimate that as many as  40% of the general public may be involved in some form of estate dispute.

There are certainly a goodly number of people who are surprised to be disinherited, as opposed to the third that expect to be.

Needless to say estate litigation is a growth area in the practice of law primarily by reason of demographics, but it huge contributing factor has to be the relatively recent breakdown of the nuclear family and the rise of the single-parent or so-called blended family, both of which are a breeding ground for estate disputes.

I have previously blogged on  various aspects of  the dysfunctional family , including the various factors that comprise it,  the unstable environment  at best , and the lifetime of   ugly memories , anxieties , insecurities  and the like  that carry on for life .

The ultimate and probably inevitable conclusion  for the dysfunctional family  is after the death of the last parent  the final implosion  of the remains of the family  with the deceased parent  often taking a last kick it his or her children from the grave by disinheriting one or more  of them.

One of the sadder aspects  of dysfunctional families that I have witnessed is that after many years of this functionally hanging together, as the needy parents age and become more dependent . They frequently fear or experience, abandonment by their children and may even come to believe that  they are only after their money .

typically after the death of the last parent  I have experienced  children of dysfunctional families desperately  tried to write the perceived wrongs suffered by each of them during  their childhood and early adult years . Family possessions that might not sell at a garage sale suddenly become precious and invaluable as they are memories of a fantasy childhood that never happened .

In my world of estate litigation , it is difficult for children to accept that one child or another will inherit  substantially more or has been treated  more favorably  throughout life – the financial gain  somehow then becomes equated  with the amount of parental love that has been denied .

Trevor Todd

Trevor Todd is one of the province’s most esteemed estate litigation lawyers. He has spent more than 40 years helping the disinherited contest wills and transfers – and win. From his Kerrisdale office, which looks more like an eclectic art gallery than a lawyer’s office, Trevor empowers claimants and restores dignity to families across BC. He is a mentor to young entrepreneurs and an art buff who supports starving artists the world over. He has an eye for talent and a heart for giving back.

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