WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SIBLINGS RECEIVE UNEQUAL INHERITANCES
April 19, 2016
Not all California parents write a will that divides their estate equally among all of their adult children. Some decide to leave one child a larger portion of their estate because they have a better relationship with that child or the child has a lot of expenses. When an estate is divided unevenly between siblings, personal and legal disputes may arise.
If a person's adult child is made the executor and is left with a larger inheritance than are others, the other siblings may become upset when they find out. However, the disgruntled siblings cannot sue the executor of the estate for complying with the parent's wishes. There is no law that requires a parent to treat each child equally.
One of the only legal options for family members to take if they are unhappy with the way that an estate was divided is to challenge the validity of the will or trust. Some common grounds are lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence and tortious interference.
Litigation concerning the validity of estate planning documents can be avoided if a person creates a living trust. With a living trust, settlors can explain how they would like their assets divided and testify to those wishes while they are still alive. Another benefit of a living trust is that trust assets can pass to beneficiaries without going through probate. A person who wants to divide assets between multiple beneficiaries may want to speak to a lawyer about these and other estate planning tools.