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Making a will avoids ugly family disputes

“The grass is always greener on the other side.” People, by nature, often desire what they do not have; what other people have always seems preferable. Greed can often consume people, while jealousy can trigger malicious behaviour.

This article will explore the issue of family disputes, which often arises in regards to family inheritances and money.

Sok Sam Oeurn, director at the Cambodian Defenders Project, said one of the primary motivators behind family rows and arguments was when it came to inheritances and heirlooms.

“If people prepare it all in advance and legally, it’s much more beneficial- rivalry often occurs when family members aren’t clear on who is receiving what and try to take all of the wealth and assets,” he said.

We’ve seen numerous cases reported in Cambodian newspapers on the issue.

One famous case is that of the Kov Chily family. In 2010, Kov Chily’s wife, Seng Chanda was convicted of the murder of her stepdaughter, Sun Sotha, and Ms Sotha’s 9 year-old daughter, and sentenced to 20 years in prison. At the courtroom, she told how the prosecturos decided she was motivated by jealousy. “They accused me of wanting to kill Son Sutha because I am afraid that Sun Sotha will inherit my husband’s property,” she said – although she added that her husband still had 11 children remaining.

Some people in Cambodia are not fully aware of how to prepare legal documents to ensure inheritance after parents pass away. Some think that it is only the rich who need to care about such things, and ignore it. But disputes over property also happen in poor families.

Luy Eourt, 36 years old, a vegetable seller at Century Plaza market, said that it is usual for people to feel envy within her family. “Even though my family is not a wealthy one, frankly speaking, we still have arguments about our father’s property,” she said.

When he died, her father, a farmer, left his house and a paddy field but never made a will. Each member of the family demanded more share than the others. Cursing and fighting ensued. Poor and unable to spend money on an expensive lawsuit, the family sold the land because money was easier to share between them.

Mrs Meas Phat, 65, who has her own grocery shop, said that her family is fighting over the property of her wealthy older brother, who recently died without making a will. “I think it would be better if elderly people like me start to care about the property of our children in advance,” she said. .

Toeung Sreymom, 23, a graduate student at the University of Health and Science said that although she trusts her siblings, she may not trust their husbands and wives and so hopes her parents will prepare a will.

The question of sibling loyalty changing also occurred to Kuy Ratank, a 22-year old student at the Institute of Foreign Languages. “We cannot forsee what will happen and change in the future. Even though we are siblings, we might have different characteristics and personality when we are older.”

For Koam Rithy, a 46 year-old officer, it is essential to make a will to avoid sowing the seeds of dispute among his children. “For sure I will make a legal document, dividing my property between all of my children before I die, because I’ve spend my life earning money for them. They are my hope and happiness.”

As important as wealth is to some people, if you let it rule your life it can bring bad effects. You should control any desires or passions that might lead you to become a greedy or jealous person. Families are tied from the moment of birth: fondness and mutual understanding can reduce jealousy and maliciousness within them.

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