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squander an estate


How Often Do Children Squander an Estate?

The Times of London has this interesting article on “Siblings’ Fight over Will Threatens to Eat up Entire Estate.”

Three brothers and a sister who risk squandering their dead mother’s Estate on legal costs as they battle over her Will have returned to court for a fourth time. David, Nino, and Remo Rea have been feuding with their 59-year-old sister, Rita, since their mother left nearly all her fortune to her daughter in 2016. Anna Rea is said to have claimed that her sons had abandoned her. The brothers have now asked a High Court judge to nullify her most recent Will, drafted in 2015, which bequeathed her Estate to her one daughter Rita.


The frequency with which fighting over a Will leads to the loss of an Estate can vary widely depending on several factors, including the specific circumstances, the individuals involved, and the legal systems of the jurisdiction in question. While it is challenging to provide precise statistics on this matter, it is worth noting that protracted legal battles and disputes over Wills can have significant financial and emotional costs for all parties involved. Here are a few factors that can contribute to the potential loss of an Estate:

  1. Depletion of Estate Assets: Legal disputes can be costly, and the fees associated with attorneys, court proceedings, and expert witnesses can quickly deplete the assets of an Estate. This can reduce the overall value of the Estate and the amount ultimately distributed to Beneficiaries.
  2. Lengthy Probate Process: Contesting a Will can prolong the Probate process, which is the legal procedure for administering the Estate of a deceased person. Lengthy Probate proceedings can lead to increased administrative expenses and delay distributing assets to Beneficiaries.
  3. Legal Costs and Attorney Fees: Engaging in litigation over a Will can result in substantial legal costs and attorney fees for all parties involved. These expenses can quickly accumulate and eat into the assets of the Estate.
  4. Damage to Family Relationships: Will disputes often create significant tension and animosity within families. Prolonged conflicts can strain relationships, leading to fractured family dynamics that may further complicate the resolution of the Estate.
  5. Court Intervention and Decision: In some cases, if the court determines that the Will is invalid or insufficient evidence supports its validity, the Estate may be subject to intestate succession laws. This means that the court will distribute the assets according to the default rules of the jurisdiction, which may not align with the deceased person’s intended wishes. And it may not make the Beneficiaries happy either.

It is essential to note that each case is unique, and not all conflicts over Wills result in the loss of the Estate. Some disputes can be resolved through mediation, negotiation, or alternative dispute resolution methods, which may help preserve the Estate’s assets and reach a satisfactory resolution for all parties involved. Consulting with an experienced attorney specializing in Estate Planning or Probate Law can provide guidance on navigating potential conflicts and protecting the Estate’s assets.

In our resource section of Smartwills, there are several articles on Wills and how they need to be drafted to ensure that they cannot be challenged. Check them out at…www.smartwills.ca/blog

Read our blog post on how to talk to aging parents about money

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This material is for general information and educational purposes only. Information is based on data gathered from what we believe are reliable sources. It is not guaranteed as to accuracy, does not purport to be complete and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions.