The loss of a parent means that children go through a wide range of emotions. They will likely experience denial and disbelief, anger, blame, depression and guilt. These unsettling emotions can manifest themselves in different ways, meaning that in many circumstances, arguments break out between siblings.
While the heightened emotions of the grieving process can add to the likelihood of disputes, there are also some situations that make the probate process and gaining inheritance even more complex. The following are some specific reasons why siblings often fight over inheritance.
There was no estate plan
If a person dies without putting an estate plan in place, there are many more uncertainties at play. When a person didn’t have a will, the entire estate must go through probate. The court will then supervise the division of the assets according to state law. This can be a lengthy process and siblings can enter disputes when disagreeing on what their parent would have wanted.
An estate may have to go through probate even when there is a will. The actual hurdle that you have to go through if there is no estate plan is demonstrating the legal heirs and notifying those individuals. Also, there may be disagreements as to who gets an specific personal property (heirlooms, jewelry, etc.) because it is not specified. There may also be disagreements as to who is the executor as there is no will naming one.
The estate was divided unequally
If you or another sibling gained a larger share of the estate than the other, or if one sibling was left out of the will, this is likely to result in resentment or a dispute. This could lead to a legal battle, since they may believe that this was not your parent’s last wishes.
The will was not what was expected
If the deceased person changed their will at a late stage in their life, or if they shared information about their will that did not materialize, you or your siblings may have reason to believe that undue influence was at play, especially if your parent was not mentally competent at the end of their life. In this case, they may enter a dispute and accuse you or another sibling of manipulating or coercing them into changing their will when they did not have the mental competence to do so.
If you recently lost a parent and you are disagreeing with your sibling, it is important that you understand the law so that you can take the best possible action.