Why Families Fight Over Inheritances

Dysfunctional family roles

The reasons why families fight over inheritances is much more complicated than simply greed.

The book Blood and Money  by P. Mark Accettura is required reading for anyone involved in the business of estate disputes, or anyone going through one or about to do so.The book is both academic in its anecdotal “research” as well as entertaining. The author was in the estate planning and elder law area for 30 years and weaves 5 years of research into various aspects of everything ranging from psychology to gerontology to produce this interesting read. He observes and reflects the experiences of disinheroited.com, that a significant number of estate disputes involve parties who come from dysfunctional families, that often have shades of mental illnesses, or addictions or personality disorders of many kids, but often narcissistic personalities.  The author posits five basic reasons why families fight over inheritances  1. Humans are genetically disposed to conflict; 2. Our self is intertwined with the approval that an inheritance represents, especially if the deceased is a parent; 3. People are hard wired to look for exclusion, to the point of some finding it where it doesn’t exist; 4. The death of a loved one activates the death anxiety of the loved ones left behind; 5. A family member has a personality disorder that distorts and exacerbates the natural family tensions into legal battles. In the experience of disinherited.com, many of these dysfunctional families”hang together” while the parent(s) are alive, but after the death of both parents, the fight is on.

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