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Can sibling rivalry lead to litigation?

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2022 | Estate planning |

Sibling rivalry happens in many families across the country, with these rivalries often starting in childhood and maintaining even through adulthood.

In some cases, this rivalry can lead to major issues. For example, in the event of a parent’s death, these rivalries may escalate to the point of litigation.

Use of undue influence

MetroWest Daily News takes in accounts of litigation resulting from sibling arguments and rivalries. In most cases, these issues stem from two primary sources: accusations of undue influence, and accusations of parental favoritism.

The first case involves one sibling accusing another of actively interfering with their parent when they were in a vulnerable mental state with the goal of gaining more than their fair share of assets. For example, a child may take advantage of a parent who has age-related dementia by tricking them into signing documents that give the child more legal power.

Potential parental favoritism

The second case involves a parent in a clear state of mind actively choosing to divide up their assets in an unequal way. This can stoke old irritations and rivalries between siblings, especially if there is a history among the siblings of believing that their parents favored one child over the rest.

This is easier to avoid, simply by the parent dividing up their assets equally. If they for some reason cannot or do not wish to do so, then it is up to them to communicate clearly to their children why they made this choice.

Clear communication is the best way to avoid rivalries from spiraling into legal action when handling probate. However, in the event that it still happens, it is important to contact legal aid.