Can sibling disputes elevate to litigation?

17 Mar, 2022

On Behalf of Mack & Mack Attorneys | estate planning,probate administration

When siblings have a fraught history, it often comes to light and ends up aggravated at the most inopportune of times. This can include during the probate of a parent’s estate.

How exactly do these disputes between siblings end up escalating to the point of litigation, though? What are the most common reasons for this to happen?

Uneven asset division in a parent’s will

Metrowest Daily New discusses the potential for sibling disputes to spiral out of hand. Sibling disputes often begin in childhood for numerous reasons. It could simply stem from a conflict of personality, but in some cases, a specific incident may trigger resentment that lasts a lifetime. Sometimes, children also feel jealous of one another if they believe their parents hold any of them in special favor.

The death of a parent already evokes a lot of complicated feelings in some children. If you add onto that the possibility that one child still ends up favored even in the estate plan, frustrations can easily boil over. This is why the first common reason for litigation is an unequal distribution of assets in a parent’s will.

Sometimes, parents who are in a completely clear state of mind will do this for various reasons. If they decide that they must keep assets unequal for whatever reason, it is crucial that they explain said reason to their children to avoid a dispute in the future.

Undue influence accusations

Accusations of undue influence also lead to litigation. This involves one sibling accusing another of exerting manipulative control over a parent, especially if that parent had mental health or memory problems. Unfortunately, there is no good way to avoid litigation in these cases.

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