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Why do siblings litigate over probate?

On Behalf of | Mar 23, 2022 | Estate Planning |

When sibling rivalries grow wildly out of control, it can result in major problems for everyone involved. This is especially true when it comes to matters involving the assets or estate of parents, as is the case with probate.

Some sibling rivalries can even escalate to the point of litigation. But how, and why?

Sibling disputes of the past

Metrowest Daily News discusses potential sibling disputes that might arise over probate. In general, past wounds and negative ties tend to get aggravated in the wake of a parent’s death due to the emotional disturbance it brings. Add in the fact that it involves assets, and it creates a powder keg.

There are two main reasons for sibling disputes to rise to the point of litigation. The first has to do with old bad blood and the poor handling of a parent’s estate. In some cases, a parent may leave unequal or inequitable assets divided up among their children. This can stoke old resentment about perceived favoritism and cause children who got less to lash out and litigate in an attempt to even the divisions out.

How can you avoid them?

The easiest way to avoid this is by the parent making sure to divide the assets equally from the start. If that is impossible for some reason, then it is important for the parent to make a clear statement to their child about why this has happened.

The other issue is undue influence. This involves one sibling accusing another of manipulating an elderly parent, especially if they have mental health or memory problems. The accused sibling likely did this to gain a more favorable mention in the estate plan. There is not much to do in this case but go through litigation, unfortunately, which is why having legal aid may be of service.