Inheritance Quarrels

      Big conflicts may arise in families from perceived unfairness in inheritances.  A common hot issue may come when siblings receive different amounts of help from parents during their lifetime.  Siblings often accept this as other siblings may need more assistance, but there is an unstated expectation that things will be “evened up” in the end.

         In a recent Georgia Supreme Court decision, one son received $50,000 from his father during his life.  Upon the dad’s death, that son became the executor of the estate, and when the will did not “even up” inheritances, the other siblings complained that the $50,000 should be considered an advance and such amount be deducted from that son’s share.  They argued that since the son was an executor and therefore a fiduciary, he owed the highest duty of loyalty and fairness.   The Court of Appeals agreed and held the executor may have a duty to acknowledge the receipt of funds in writing, making it an advancement.

           However, the Supreme Court held that this situation was no exception to the rule that advances must be memorialized in writing at the time the transfer of funds is made.

The information provided in this summary is general and for information only and does not constitute legal advice for any particular situation of facts and circumstances.  If you have need of legal advice, please consult an attorney for your specific questions.