Can My Brother Sue Me for My Inheritance?

When a parent passes away, and an inheritance is on the line, it is an unfortunate reality that sibling rivalries can surface. Siblings may feel entitled to a portion of your inheritance, especially if they feel you received more than your fair share. If you have found yourself in this situation, you might wonder, Can my brother sue me for my inheritance? Whether or not they can depends on the specific circumstances of your case. 

At Gokal Law Group, we have spent years helping beneficiaries defend and recover their rightful inheritance through litigation and mediation. Here’s when a sibling can sue you for an inheritance.

Can My Brother Sue Me for My Inheritance?

All current beneficiaries, beneficiaries who were in previous versions of a will or trust, and heirs have the right to sue other beneficiaries or the trustee for their inheritance. 

Siblings usually have the right to file a lawsuit if they believe their inheritance rights have been compromised due to undue influence or changes in the legal documents. If the will or trust was forged, obtained by fraud or undue influence, this is often grounds for litigation. 

Let’s explore situations where your brother (or sister) could sue you for your inheritance. 

Related Article: The Emotional Toll on Siblings Contesting a Trust in California

When Can My Brother Sue Me for My Inheritance?

If you are in a position where you are both the trustee and a beneficiary of a trust, you have a significant responsibility to uphold your fiduciary duties (i.e., acting in the best interest of the trust and beneficiaries and never putting your interests first).

Failure to uphold these duties as a trustee who is also a beneficiary is grounds for a lawsuit. For example, imagine you are the beneficiary of a trust and the trustee, and the trust holds a house as an asset. In this hypothetical situation, let’s say you allow your child to live in the house rent-free.

This act is a breach of your fiduciary duty because you are failing to make the trust profitable and showing a clear conflict of interest. Your brother or sister, if they were beneficiaries, could theoretically sue you, and the court could compel you to repay what was lost in unpaid rent—which could come out of your inheritance. 

Another situation that could provide grounds for your siblings to sue you for your inheritance is any instance of undue influence. Undue influence is using manipulation, coercion, or deceit to affect someone’s decision-making.

In matters of estate planning or trust administration, this could mean taking advantage of someone’s old age and coercing the person who created the will or trust to make decisions in your favor, such as leaving you a greater portion of their estate.

In some cases, one sibling may assume they are entitled to a larger portion of the estate if they are the caretaker for the parent, but this is not the law. 

If you and your sibling cannot reach an agreement on how to divide an inheritance property, a partition action is an option. A partition action compels the court to force the sale of inherited property and divide proceeds among siblings. 

“These scenarios are unfortunately common. When one sibling is entrusted with greater responsibility in administering a trust or inherits what is perceived as an unfair portion of the estate or an item that holds sentimental value, sibling rivalries surface. It is not uncommon in the wake of a parent’s passing to mistake the size of your inheritance as a measurement of how much they loved you. Regardless, in these situations, you need an attorney on your side who can help pursue alternative dispute resolutions and, if necessary, succeed in court.”

Alison S. Gokal, Partner, Gokal Law Group

Related Article: What to consider When there Are Siblings contesting a Trust in California?

Is Your Brother Suing You for Your Inheritance? Contact Us to Defend Your Inheritance!

So, can my brother sue me for my inheritance? Yes, if they suspect foul play, beneficiaries, former beneficiaries, and heirs have the right to take legal action against you. If your sibling is suing you, you deserve a legal team with extensive experience and specialized expertise who will always take a personalized, client-centric approach to helping you. And at Gokal Law Group, that’s exactly what you get.

Visit our Contact Page to schedule a free consultation for comprehensive representation. Our firm has a strong reputation and track record of proven results and obtaining favorable outcomes for clients in trust and probate litigation matters.


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