There is a mean and nasty world out there! It stems from jealousy, greed, and the desire to settle old scores.

God created the family and had intentions that family life and children should be a blessing. God has provided for his people so that they could serve Him and live in peace.

But when parents get sick and leave this world, we hear of horror stories about families being torn apart by inheritance battles. Brothers and sisters, nieces and nephew, sons and daughters wage war on one another. Winners eventually win the war but loose members of the family in the process. It is like a tree that loses its branches or even dies itself.

Death and money are an explosive combination.

When mom breaks a hip or dad’s dementia gets worse, the family must make decisions, but unfortunately, past family rivalries can ignite again. Instead of keeping their minds on the needs of their parents, families can look at their own financial problems and make decisions which not only offend the rest of the family but can put their parents into misery by denying them the use of their life’s savings.

You hear about favouritism from a parent or parents to one child over the other. You also have to contend with the fact that children get left out of the will.

Siblings fight predominately about money. This may lead to financial abuse of ones parents and even to elder abuse. We know that it can get bad. How do we avoid it?

A good place to start would be to remember what God has taught us through the church. “Honour your father and mother”. Remember the love your parents had towards you throughout your life and the sacrifices made by them. Respecting our parents is a sign of our own dignity. We have to love our parents as our life givers, not because they may have an inheritance for us. Once we turn our attention to the inheritance, the love and respect we are to give our parents gets very uncertain.

Parents themselves should do their estate planning more carefully. Wills should be clear and concise. You can almost never presume that the children will not fight over the will. Home-made wills are almost never adequate. Children’s marriages are not always permanent. Wills should be reviewed from time to time. Clear plans and instructions should be made by parents as to the possible time that they become incapacitated. Who will take care of them? Who will take care of business?

Children should remember that parents’ money and property does not belong to them until both parents have passed away. To assume that it belongs to the children before that time is stealing. Parents’ money should be used for the care and comfort of the parents while they are alive. Anything less would be a great injustice towards the parents and a sin against God.

When you really look at it, are family splits, disputes, fights, or breakups really worth it? Can the extra few dollars from the estate really buy that much happiness that it is worth the destruction of a family for generations to come? Think about it!