What Happens When a Sibling Disputes a Parent’s Will?

A parent’s death doesn’t necessarily stop sibling rivalries. Disputes can carry on for a lifetime, and sometimes these arguments find a way into the probate process. Sometimes, one of the adult children will claim ownership to an asset, perhaps a bank account or a family heirloom, claiming that the deceased parent promised it to him or her. (Even if it isn’t stated that way in the will.)

Just because your sibling is jealous of your inheritance doesn’t mean that your parent’s will can be disputed in court. Jealousy is not enough to have the will thrown out by a judge. Your sibling must prove that the will is invalid.

There are four reasons that a court might find that a will was invalid:

  • Fraud – The will may be forged, or the signer was tricked into signing it. For example, a caregiver could have told the signer that the document was a power of attorney.
  • Undue Influence – Someone may have influenced the signer, to the point of coercion, into signing the will. For example, a close family member may manipulate an elderly person, who is reliant on the family member and simply incapable of pushing back against pressure to sign a new will.
  • Mental Incapacity – The signer may not be competent to make a will if he does not understand that he owns assets, that the “natural” recipients of that property at his death are family members, and that the will is directing where his assets will go after his death.
  • Improper Execution – The will may not have been signed or witnessed according to legal requirements.

While your brother or sister may have a grievance about your inheritance, envy or anger alone will not stop the probate process, although any challenge to the will, even if ultimately unsuccessful, is likely to cause a significant delay.

Are you facing a dispute with a sibling over your parent’s will? You should speak with an attorney to know your rights. Call us at 404-892-9797 for a case evaluation.

Gaslowitz Frankel LLC is Georgia’s premier fiduciary litigation law firm. The firm has earned a reputation for excellence across Georgia and the Southeast in providing representation to individuals, executors, trustees, investors, shareholders, and financial institutions in complex fiduciary disputes involving wills, estates, trusts, guardianships, conservatorships, businesses, and securities.