Should All Children Expect to Inherit Their Parents’ Estate Equally?

Q: In a recent column, you discussed the case of an 84-year old mother who had deeded her property to her granddaughter and older sister. The question posed was whether the mother was of sound mind.

While abuse and duress certainly seem to be prevalent in these money-hungry days, perhaps the opposite is true. Perhaps the mother is leaving property to those who treat her best, namely, in this case, the granddaughter and the older sister.

People expect to automatically inherit on the basis of relation but the mother may not like how she has been treated by the twin sisters and has chosen to leave them nothing.

A: You are right, of course. It’s entirely possible that the daughter who wrote to me has done something really awful to her mother and has been cut out of the will. And, I said as much in the first sentence of the answer.

But I also wanted to raise the possibility of elder abuse because it is such a heinous crime and because it goes on every day.

I think part of my job is exploring both sides of an issue and providing a takeaway to help the letter writer. In this case, I suggested that my correspondent discuss the issue with her mother so that she gains “closure” and doesn’t spend the rest of her life wondering what really happened.

But if in that conversation, it appears to her that her mother is confused and doesn’t understand what has happened, there may be something worth pursuing with an elder law attorney.

Thanks for taking the time to write.

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