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Do siblings take each other to court during probate?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2022 | Estate Planning

Sibling rivalries will often happen, with many siblings experiencing disputes of varying degrees of intensity throughout their childhoods and even into adulthood.

Certain things can come along that reopen old wounds, too. This is often the case when a parent dies and leaves behind a will that their children end up questioning. In some cases, this can even lead to litigation.

Undue influence

Metrowest Daily News looks into potential reasons for sibling disputes to end up in litigation during probate. There are two main reasons that siblings will take one another to court when dealing with a deceased parent’s will. First: suspicion of undue influence. Second: an actually unequal division of assets done by a parent in a clear state of mind.

Undue influence involves the manipulation of someone in a weakened mental state. For example, one sibling might accuse another of taking advantage of a parent with dementia in order to gain more favor in their will or gain additional power over their estate.

Unequal estate division

Parents may actually create unequal divisions of their estate in some cases, though. Of course, many children will see this as a parent playing favorites and may litigate against the will due to unfairness.

Parents can easily help prevent litigation in the latter case by simply ensuring all children get an equal or equitable share of the estate. If they cannot or will not do this for some reason, they must find a way to clearly explain their reasoning to their children to help prevent arguments later.

If litigation happens over probate, it is often a long and expensive experience. This is why everyone should make efforts to avoid it if possible.