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Can a sibling spat lead to litigation?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2022 | Probate Administration |

Many siblings will deal with rivalries between one another at some point in their childhood or even adulthood. While many of these spats are minor and most siblings will grow out of them, others may end up holding life-long grudges.

The fires of these grudges may end up accidentally stoked during probate for a parent as well. But just what does this mean for you?

Undue influence

Metrowest Daily News discusses situations where sibling spats may lead to worse problems. In the case of probate, it is easy for old hurts to rise up again and for siblings to feel like they need to take legal action to even the field.

In most cases, two common issues tend to lead to litigation. The first is the potential that undue influence has occurred. The second is an unequal distribution of assets on the part of a mentally clear parent.

Undue influence happens when one person – the influencer – attempts to exert influence and control over someone who is not in a clear-thinking state. In the case of probate, it often involves the manipulation of an older relative with memory loss or other mental health problems like dementia. The end goal is to gain control of more estate or gain a more favorable share of assets.

Unequal asset division

Sometimes, parents who are in a perfectly clear mental state without any outside influence will still decide to divide their assets unevenly, though. The easiest way to avoid disputes that might come from this is to ensure all children have an equal share to avoid accusations of favoritism. If a parent cannot do that, for whatever reason, they should at least explain to their children why they have divided assets in such a way.

The litigation that can spring up from these issues can result in lengthy and costly court battles, so it is important to be prepared.