{ Banner Image }

Tips for Avoiding Conflict with Family

No family is perfect. Families will fight, not speak to each other for extended periods, or in some extreme cases, face each other in court. 

This is especially true as parents advance in age and as they become more dependent on their children for assistance, old conflicts can come back to the forefront, leading to quarrels among siblings as well as between parents and their children.

Often these disputes begin not out of greed but for a variety of other reasons:

  • Internal difficulty in coping with a parent in decline
  • Conflicts, power struggles and rivalries that are dug up from the past
  • Disparities and inequities in the burden of care
  • Disagreements in both medical decisions and in living arrangements
  • Financial concerns over the care of a parent

The following are practical tips that you can put in place before you get too far down the road to family conflict and/or sibling rivalry. Keep in mind, however, that this is general advice and is not guaranteed to quell any family argument.

Plan Ahead

It is important that you talk with your parents early on to ensure that proper estate plans and elder care plans are in place. Proper planning now can avoid disaster in the future. Further, ensuring everyone is involved in these discussions will avoid the feeling by some siblings that they are being “cut out” of important family matters.


This may seem obvious, but often family disagreements occur because of too little or no communication among members of the family. Family meetings, early and often, are crucial to ensure that no one feels left out of important decisions. This is true both as parents begin to require assistance, as well as after they are gone.


If you are acting as an attorney-in-fact under a Power of Agent designation, or as a guardian, or in any other fiduciary capacity for your parent, provide regular updates to your siblings and family. Again, communication is of paramount importance. It is also important to keep detailed records.

Professional Assistance

Part of the issue with conflict, especially in heated family situations, is that each side feels as though they are in the right and the other is wrong. There is no shame in getting help from professionals. Use third-party mediation to stave off future issues when disagreements first arise. Investigating mediation options when issues first arise may avoid costly and protracted conflict in the future.


Respect your parents and the difficult process they face of coming to terms with their own limitations due to age. It is as frustrating for them to cope as it is for you. Also, respect the fact that siblings may have different life experiences causing them to view things differently. It is okay to have difference of opinions, but respect ensures that the parties keep focus on the main goal, which is taking care of mom and dad.


Empathize with elderly parents and empathize with siblings. This goes hand in hand with respect. No family is perfect and understanding that most issues come from internal struggles that are projected outward is a key to proper management of conflict. Don’t take all outbursts to heart.

Don’t Expect Miracles

Don’t expect changes overnight in a sibling’s behavior but do encourage participation from everyone in both the planning and care of a parent.


Accept the fact that your aging parents and/or siblings are who they are and not who you want them to be.

Families will not always get along. As we age, we get more set in our ways and no amount of arguing will change that. Again, communication is key; communicate with your family now to avoid disputes tomorrow.

This article is meant for general information purposes only and is NOT LEGAL ADVICE. If you have questions about how this article may apply to you or if future family conflict seems imminent, contact a Foster Swift elder law attorney.

Categories: Did you Know?, Elder Law, Powers of Attorney

Type the following characters: papa, tango, six, whisky

* Indicates a required field.

Subscribe to RSS»
Get Updates By Email:

Survivor's Checklist:

Due to the shock of the death of a spouse or a loved one, the steps of what needs to be done first can be an overwhelming process for the survivor(s). To aid in the breakdown and to act as a tool amidst the emotional days ahead, estate planning Jonathan "Jay" David has assembled a "Survivor's Checklist" of some of the important things that need to be addressed when a spouse or loved one dies.

Resources and Support for Older Adults Living Alone: A Comprehensive Guide (2024):

Below is a comprehensive guide of resources for older adults living alone, empowering them to thrive independently and access essential services. This guide was created and provided with permission by the National Council on Aging (NCOA).

Resources and Support for Older Adults Living Alone: A Comprehensive Guide (2024) (ncoa.org)

Elder Organizer Tool:

Foster Swift has created a free ‘Elder Organizer’ digital notebook to provide seniors and their caretakers with a toolkit that helps organize doctors’ appointments, medications, and more that can be shared online. The tools below are also available on the Elder Law Resources page.

*For those trying to access these links by smartphone, it is best practice to copy/open the link in a separate tab and download the free Google Sheets app from Google Play or the Apple Store.

Using the Elder Law OrganizerMedication & Appointments ButtonVisitor Log & Photos/Media ButtonPrivate Care Schedule ButtonElder Law Resources Button

COVID-19 Checklist:

For adult children responsible for their elderly parents and other senior caretakers concerned about protecting loved ones as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, below is a free downloadable checklist of steps to follow to prepare for any possible COVID-19-related illnesses among the most-vulnerable.

Download Button: Checklist

E-book Covers Estate Planning Essentials

Estate Planning Cover

Engaging in estate planning, while essential, is often emotional and generates many questions. How do I protect my spouse and my children if something happens to me? What happens if I become disabled before I pass on? Who will take care of my pet after I'm gone? How do I pass my business on to my children? These questions and more are addressed in Jonathan David’s recently updated e-book, “Estate Planning: You Have to Start in Order to Finish.”

Need Help Planning?

Helping Hands

For more tools, visit our Elder Law Resource page for additional content. Click here to view/download the Foster Swift estate planning brochure to see what our experienced team of attorneys can do for you.