Can You Sue a Sibling for Inheritance? The Shocking Truth About Family Feuds

When a parent dies, the last thing you want to deal with is a sibling dispute over the inheritance.

But sadly, this is a common scenario that can tear families apart.

Whether it’s about money, property, or personal belongings, siblings can fight over anything that their parents left behind.

And sometimes, the only way to resolve the conflict is to take legal action.

But can you sue a sibling for inheritance? And what are the chances of winning the case?

In this article, we will explore the legal aspects of sibling inheritance disputes, and reveal some of the most shocking stories of family feuds that ended up in court.

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Can You Sue a Sibling for Inheritance? Yes, a sibling inheritance dispute is a legal conflict that arises when one or more siblings are unhappy with the way their parent’s estate is distributed.
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What Is a Sibling Inheritance Dispute?

A sibling inheritance dispute is a legal conflict that arises when one or more siblings are unhappy with the way their parent’s estate is distributed.

This can happen for various reasons, such as:

  • The parent died without a will, and the state laws determine how the estate is divided among the heirs.
  • The parent had a will, but it was unclear, outdated, or unfair.
  • The parent was influenced, coerced, or manipulated by another sibling or a third party to change the will.
  • The sibling who is in charge of administering the estate (the executor or trustee) is dishonest, incompetent, or abusive.

In any of these cases, a sibling who feels cheated or wronged can challenge the validity of the will, or the actions of the executor or trustee, in court.

This is called a will contest or a trust litigation.

How to Sue a Sibling for Inheritance?

Should you consider legal action against a sibling for an inheritance, establishing valid grounds is crucial.

Mere dissatisfaction with the will’s outcome won’t suffice.

You must substantiate issues in estate planning, execution, or distribution.

Grounds for legal action may include:

  1. Lack of testamentary capacity: If the parent lacked mental soundness during will creation.
  2. Undue influence: When a sibling or third party coerces or deceives the parent for personal gain.
  3. Fraud: Deceptive practices influencing the will in their favor.
  4. Forgery: Will not be signed by the parent but by another party.
  5. Improper execution: Failure to adhere to state law formalities.
  6. Breach of fiduciary duty: Executor or trustee failing to act in beneficiaries’ best interests.

To initiate legal proceedings, file a petition in probate or civil court, adhering to state laws.

Notify involved parties and consider legal assistance for a smoother process, including evidence collection.

Risks of Suing a Sibling for Inheritance

Think twice before suing a sibling for inheritance; it carries substantial financial and emotional risks.

Potential drawbacks include:

  1. Cost: Legal proceedings are expensive, covering court fees, attorney fees, and more. Losing may result in covering the opponent’s legal costs.
  2. Time: Litigation is time-consuming, causing stress and uncertainty. Prolonged cases may escalate expenses.
  3. Relationship: Legal battles can strain or ruin relationships with siblings and family, leading to resentment and lasting damage.
  4. Reputation: Involvement in litigation, especially with sensitive issues, can harm your reputation, exposing personal matters and potentially portraying you negatively in public or media.

Examples of Sibling Inheritance Disputes?

Common yet shocking sibling inheritance disputes include:

  1. The Astor Case: A notorious and lengthy battle over the estate of socialite Brooke Astor. Her son, Anthony Marshall, was accused of exploitation and manipulation, leading to his conviction for fraud, conspiracy, and grand larceny.
  2. The Huguette Clark Case: Involving the reclusive heiress Huguette Clark’s $300 million estate. Disinheriting relatives, the will face challenges of mental incompetence. After a two-year legal battle, a settlement awarded $34.5 million to relatives.
  3. The B.B. King Case: A bitter dispute over blues legend B.B. King’s $30 million estate. Allegations of mismanagement, poisoning, and forged will lead to a lawsuit by some children, ultimately dismissed for lack of evidence.


Sibling inheritance disputes can be a nightmare for any family.

They can cause a lot of stress, expense, and heartache, and ruin the legacy of the deceased parent.

If you are involved in such a dispute or want to avoid one, you should consult with a lawyer who specializes in estate planning and probate litigation.

They can help you understand your rights and options, and guide you through the legal process.

Remember, suing a sibling for inheritance is not always the best solution.

Sometimes, it may be better to try to resolve the conflict amicably or to accept the outcome gracefully.

After all, money can’t buy happiness, but family can.

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