Why Siblings Fight Over Inheritance? Understanding the Scope of Emotions

Losing a parent is a deeply emotional experience for children, marked by a range of intense feelings.

These emotions often include denial, disbelief, anger, blame, depression, and guilt.

The impact of these unsettling emotions can be profound, sometimes leading to arguments among siblings as they navigate the complexities of grief.

Why siblings fight over inheritance
Siblings may dispute inheritance due to reasons like inequality, favoritism, approval, resentment, or control. Issues arise from unclear wills, disinheritance, trusts, or sibling influence. Communication and estate planning can minimize conflicts, as inheritance involves more than just money—psychological needs and emotions are also at play: Photo source (Forbes)

Probate Process and Inheritance Disputes

Beyond the emotional challenges, the probate process and inheritance issues can further complicate the aftermath of a parent’s death.

Various factors contribute to the complexity of these situations, leading to disputes among siblings over the distribution of assets.

The Absence of an Estate Plan

One significant factor that can escalate conflicts is the absence of an estate plan.

When a parent passes away without a will, uncertainties abound.

The entire estate must go through probate, a court-supervised process where assets are distributed according to state law.

The lack of a clear plan can prolong the probate process, fostering disagreements among siblings who may have different interpretations of their parent’s wishes.

Disputes may occur regarding personal properties like heirlooms and jewelry not specified in a will.

Additionally, conflicts may emerge regarding the appointment of an executor, as there is no will naming one.

Unequal Division of the Estate

Another source of contention among siblings is the unequal division of the estate.

If one sibling receives a larger share or if a sibling is entirely omitted from the will, resentment and disputes are likely to follow.

Such situations may escalate to legal battles, with siblings contesting the perceived injustice against their parent’s intended wishes.

Also read: Can I give part of my inheritance to my sister?

Unmet Expectations from the Will

Disputes can also arise when the deceased person’s will deviates from expectations.

If a parent makes significant changes to the will late in life or shares information about the will that does not align with the final document, suspicions of undue influence may arise.

Siblings may question the validity of the will, particularly if the parent was not mentally competent towards the end of their life.

Accusations of manipulation or coercion may lead to disputes as siblings seek to uphold what they believe were their parent’s true intentions.


Parental loss sparks emotional turmoil in children, coupled with inheritance issues, leading to potential sibling conflicts.

Crucial to navigate probate challenges is understanding factors contributing to disputes in inheritance distribution.

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