Of blood and money

Substantial money was missing from the family business and one of the elder partners was implicated. He agreed to make restitution, privately, in return for no legal action. When that deal fell apart, the family split deepened and each side hired lawyers to liquidate the business and claim the proceeds.

A different family faced the cruel reality of progressive dementia overtaking their matriarch. One of the siblings agreed to put their life on hold and care for the mother full-time. It was a sacrifice they wanted to make, but one they also expected would be recognized with some financial consideration from the estate. When the mother passed away, things did not go as hoped and a claim had to be pursued.

Two stepsiblings were at odds in another family drama. With several million dollars of real estate in play, the stepsiblings fought for their surviving parent’s attention, each seeking to cut the other out of an inheritance.

Unfortunately, it’s all too common that when a family dynamic is not good to begin with, and there is financial conflict, things boil over and family members resort to legal action, said Daniel R. Deutsch, a principal in the litigation group and co-managing attorney at Brooks & DeRensis.

Deutsch has helped many people defend and assert their rights in high-stakes family conflicts. Sometimes the resolution comes through a hard-fought court battle, but often the best approach is mediation or a thoughtful settlement, Deutsch said.

It takes a mix of legal acumen, empathy, and moral persuasion, to bring cases like these to a fair conclusion, Deutsch said. In my experience, these disputes are about not only financial and moral vindication, but also emotional closure. People want to feel that they have been heard and dealt with fairly so that they can move on with their lives.