Unfortunately, a lot of families end up squabbling in probate court and in private after the death of a parent. In most cases, the main cause of contention is the estate and how much each person stands to inherit. If you think your family is above it, don't be so sure. Financial matters, in and of themselves, are very stressful. Add the death of a parent on top of that, and you've got a perfect storm for an estate fight. If you feel like tensions are rising and want to avoid fighting with your family, there are 3 ways you can diffuse the tension.
Create a Will
Of course, there's not much you can do if your parent passed away and didn't have a will. However, if your parent is alive and of sound mind when the tension starts rising, you can encourage them to fill out the necessary legal paperwork to avoid issues upon their death. While a will is the most popular method for distributing assets upon one's death, there are also revocable trusts, which can be a little easier to execute. If there is no such paperwork and your parent has passed, try to look for documents that may shed some light on how they wanted to distribute their assets.
Many fights arise from perceived slights in the distribution process. For example, someone may feel that they didn't end up with the inheritance they deserved or someone else got more than their fair share. Most of the time, this is due to misunderstanding. Debts and financial obligations that must be paid from the estate can really shrink your inheritances. If you're the executor of your parent's estate, make sure your siblings and family members know where the money is going. Regular meetings to discuss the estate would not be remiss.
You and your family members should understand that the worth of an object can change. If your parent leaves a piece of jewelry to your sister, for example, it may be worth much more today than it was when your parent had it appraised. You should also understand that your parent may not have been necessarily thinking about monetary value when leaving certain items to one person or another. They may have been thinking about the sentimental value of each item.
Tensions can rise when a loved one dies, especially if there is an estate to attend to. However, open communication and understanding can go a long way in diffusing the situation.