Understanding Your Rights When It Comes to a Disputable Intestacy

If your family leaves an inheritance that is disputed between family members, it can be frustrating. Understanding your rights when it comes to a disputed inheritance can help you get through the situation with less stress.

One of the most common inherited property disputes is between siblings. This can be a complicated issue because it involves physically dividing the property between them.


Understanding your rights when it comes to a disputed inheritance is an important part of the settlement process. The right legal advice and guidance can help you decide whether to go to court, if and when it is appropriate to do so.

In general, inheritance disputes are best resolved before the courthouse doors are opened. There are many ways to do this, from mediation to conciliation.

There are also several jurisdictional issues that can arise when an inheritance is disputed between family members. Some of these include the probate exception, diversity jurisdiction and realignment doctrines.

Inheritance Statutes

The laws of inheritance can be complex, but you should know what your rights are when it comes to a disputed inheritance. Understanding your inheritance law can make the difference between a stalemate or resolution that works for everyone.

If a family member dies without a will, their estate is divided up according to state inheritance statutes, also known as intestacy laws. Generally, a surviving spouse will receive the largest share of the estate.

Depending on state laws, the estate may also be divided up among children and grandchildren. Adopted children, stepchildren and foster children also have inheritance rights.

When there is a disagreement about how to dispose of an inheritance, it's important for all parties involved to remember that executors and trustees are fiduciaries who have a responsibility to act in the best interest of all beneficiaries. If they violate their duties, they could be held liable for damages. It's also a good idea to reach out to an attorney for help if you find yourself in a situation where you have a dispute about an inheritance.

Intestacy Laws

When a person dies without a will, their estate is transferred to probate courts. Intestacy laws determine who will inherit the deceased person's property, which is called their "intestate estate."

Typically, a surviving spouse will receive the largest share of the estate first. Then, if there are children, they will also inherit.

However, there are some exceptions. A surviving spouse who is divorced or separated informally may not inherit, and registered domestic partners (also known as common-law partners) who were not married or in a civil partnership at the time of the decedent's death can also be excluded from inheritance rights.

Finally, the decedent's parents and siblings will inherit if they are still alive, and grandparents and great-grandparents can inherit if they are no longer living. If no relatives can be found, the decedent's estate usually reverts to the state.


It is often the executors and trustees who have the responsibility to act in the best interest of all the beneficiaries. Before assets are divided up and split between beneficiaries sometimes it is the bigger items that need to be sold to enable a monetary split. Property and vehicles often need to be cleared out, by local removalists before it can be sold.


Understanding your rights when it comes to a disputed inheritance, can save your loved ones a lot of heartache and emotional energy in the aftermath of your passing. If you’re concerned that your wishes may not be fulfilled, or if you have questions about filing a claim, our qualified probate attorneys can help you obtain a straightforward solution.

One of the best things you can do to prevent an inheritance dispute is to write a will. This document outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and your care of any minor children after you’re gone.

If you haven’t already written a will, do so as soon as possible. This will ensure that your wishes are carried out after you’re gone, avoiding unnecessary disputes and costly court proceedings.

Disputes over inheritance often arise due to changes in family dynamics or a person’s marital status. When this happens, it’s important to review the terms of a will and update it in accordance with changing circumstances.

More to Read: