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Can a sibling dispute get out of control?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2022 | Estate Planning |

Sibling disputes naturally occur in most families. Sometimes, they are light in nature and easy to recover from. Other times, they can last through decades and resurface years later when no one expects it.

Issues that involve finances and money, such as probate, often bring these old hurts back into the spotlight and reopen old wounds. In some cases, it can even lead to litigation.

The possibility of undue influence

MetroWest Daily discusses sibling rivalries that end in litigation. In short, the dispute gets so bad that one sibling will take the other to court, or both will take each other. This often happens during probate because of the high emotional tension resulting from losing a loved one, with the addition of finances and assets involved.

There are two primary cases in which disputes will rise to the level of litigation. One involves undue influence. In this case, one sibling might accuse another of manipulating their elderly parent, especially if the parent had issues that interfered with their mental clarity like dementia. This manipulation often occurs with the intent of gaining a bigger share of assets or more control over an estate.

Unequitable asset distribution

The other situation involves a parent in a clear state of mind making the active decision to leave unequal assets for their children. The easiest way to avoid the fallout from this is simply choosing to leave equitable assets instead. However, if that is for some reason impossible, it is important for the parent to clearly communicate the reasons behind their decisions to help cut down on the chance of litigation.

After all, taking someone to court is a long and expensive process, and it is the last stress anyone needs when dealing with a loss.