What To Do If A Sibling Disputes A Parent’s Will

The death of a parent is traumatic and whether due to stress, grief or greed, sibling disputes are common. In fact, they are the most common cause of Will disputes. It doesn’t matter how close the siblings were throughout the life of their parents, if someone deems the Will to be unfair, it can cause a bitter fight. In turn, this can lead to a long and expensive legal affair. 

Is A Last Will & Testament Really A Last Will? 

The name suggests that a Last Will & Testament is final. After all, it details your parent’s last wishes in full detail, including final arrangements and distribution of assets and finance. However, times of grief can bring out the worst in people, and if someone in the family isn’t happy with their allocated inheritance, they can take action and attempt to rectify that in their favour. 

Here’s a rundown of why a sibling might be challenging a Will, what you can do about it, and when you might need deceased estate lawyers. 

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Reasons Why A Sibling May Challenge A Will 

Although there could be any number of reasons why a sibling might be contesting a Will, there are a few reasons we see more often than others. 

  1. If a sibling has been responsible for taking care of the ailing parent more so than others – making sacrifices with their own life to do so and feeling as though they deserve more of the estate.
  2. If a sibling lives far away from the parents and believes the caretaker sibling has more access to the parent’s finances. In this case, they may feel as though there is abuse or fraud at play.
  3. The parents have not treated the children equally in the distribution of assets.
  4. The parents passed away and did not have a Will in place.
  5. There are fears the sibling who has been appointed Executor will not split the estate fairly.

What To Do If A Sibling Challenges A Parent’s Will 

If you have any problems with a Will dispute once your parents have passed, you have a few options to consider:

  • Use a professional mediator to see if you can come to an amicable agreement by working together.
  • Consider selling all the assets and splitting the proceeds between you.
  • If a sibling declines to be executor, you can hire an independent fiduciary who can make the decisions on behalf of all siblings. 

If the problems you have are based around assets in the home, you could suggest proactive action, rather than legal. Take turns to pick an item you want to keep or consider using a draw – write the items down, and randomly draw a piece of paper from a hat. 

When To Seek Legal Help & How It’s Decided 

If the above methods were not accepted, or didn’t work, your sibling will likely pursue a Family Provision Claim against the estate. This claim will be sent to the courts to decide if the Will is considered to be fair. It recognises evidence of the deceased intentions with respect to the claimant and reasons for the terms of the Will as it stands. It may also recognise the relationship between claimant and the deceased, the size and nature of the estate, age and financial resources of the claimant, and a number of other factors. 

If this is in place, it’s important that you have good representation should you need it. Will and estate lawyers have the specialised knowledge needed to provide a better chance of a fair outcome. If the case hits the courts, having estate litigation lawyers on your side is beneficial. If you want to find out more about Will estate dispute resolution and how we can help, get in touch with the team at AJB Stevens today.

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