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 .