Can sibling rivalry lead to a will contest?

| Apr 23, 2021 | Estate Planning |

At the heart of any will contest is the idea that the deceased’s will is somehow invalid. The grounds for that thought vary, including things like undue influence, lack of mental capacity or a fraudulent signature. 

However, don’t assume that these are the only factors that may cause a will to be contested. Many contested wills begin as relationship problems between the heirs. One example is sibling rivalry, which researchers know continues into adulthood and sometimes even gets worse as people get older. 

How unending rivalries can lead to estate disputes

To consider how this can happen, imagine that one sibling has always resented the other, whom they consider their parents’ favorite. Their rivalry became less pronounced as the two grew older and moved out of the house, but the aggrieved sibling never shook the feeling that their parents preferred their brother or sister. 

Fast forward to the process of reading the will, where it turns out that the “favorite” sibling did get more financial assets than the other in their parents’ estate. That sibling argues that it is because they have more financial needs and that it’s what their parents wanted to make things as fair as possible. The other sibling, however, thinks that this is just one more example of their parents’ favoritism. 

This leads them to the belief that the “favorite” sibling used undue influence to get the will altered in their favor. And, just like that, they have the grounds for an estate dispute, which is really just a case of sibling rivalry that never ended. 

Estate disputes are a complex process

Disputes like this are complex and emotionally difficult. If you’re involved in one, be sure you know what rights you have. Because such issues can be very time-sensitive, it’s important to take action quickly.