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Parents’ favouritism ignites rivalry

Siblings are at odds after the family favourite helps mum rewrite will

QUESTION:

Last year my parents sold the family farm. Everything went. All their collectable implements and machinery; all of our childhood.

Half of my siblings and their families no longer have contact with my parents. Some grandchildren don’t know their grandparents.

We have all grown apart as my parents favoured one of my sisters. Sadly this has split the family. Now their favourite lives only one street away. How are the other siblings to compete with this?

I walked in one day to witness my sister and mother rewriting the will, cutting out one of her children.

Before long it was me and my kids, too. How can you counter this with reason they will listen to?

During my childhood my parents complained about their own siblings but for some reason they can’t see history repeating itself.

I’d like to know of my rights and my children’s rights.

ANSWER:

It is sad when family conflict arises among adult siblings. The sale of the farm, including objects you grew up with, would have been upsetting. Especially if it was unexpected, and you had no opportunity to pick out any items for which you had a sentimental attachment.

This sense of loss may be adding to the issues you list above for family members.

An adversarial, blaming or “competing” approach is rarely helpful. Focus on what you can change.

Try to repair the relationship with your parents. Think about what is happening from their perspective.

Be friendly, show you care.

Counselling could help you sort through the complexities you describe in your full letter.

Regarding wills, the law recognises that a person has the right to make a will whereby they leave their estate to whomever they choose. There is no legal obligation to include particular persons.

A will is meant to represent that person’s wishes, whether others agree or not. It is possible for family members to challenge a will under the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act. Such family members include a legal or defacto spouse, a child of the deceased or the spouse, grandchildren of the deceased and in certain circumstances a parent, brother or sister of the deceased.

Claims can be made if the claimant can show the will failed to provide adequately for the claimant’s proper maintenance, education or advancement in life.

There is a time limit of six months for making a claim under the Act once Probate or Letters of Administration are granted.

Another way to address your concerns about the will is voluntary family mediation.

Submit Your Questions

Have you got a question you’d like us to tackle?

Fill out the form below or send questions to Family Forum, The Advertiser, 31 Waymouth St, Adelaide 5000.

We treat communications in strict confidence except when the law demands otherwise, as in child abuse.

Relationships Australia (SA) appoints panels of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it.

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