Can parents play favorites even in their estate plans?

On Behalf of | Nov 26, 2021 | Estate Administration & Probate |

Children all need the love and support of their parents. In families with multiple children, the ideal would be for each child to receive a similar amount of love and affection from their parents but many parents display obvious favoritism in how they interact with their children.

They may have attended all of the football games of one child but none of the theater performances of their other child. When the children got older, favoritism may have trickled down and even affected how the parents interact with their grandchildren. Sometimes, that favoritism will still persist even after your parents die.

When you read their estate plan, you realize that they have left far more property to one sibling than to the other children in your family. Is a seriously unequal estate plan justification for you to contest the will?

Children have limited inheritance rights in New York

While there are some places that have statutes protecting the inheritance rights of someone’s children, New York isn’t really one of those jurisdictions. If someone dies without a will, then their children have the right to inherit a certain amount depending on the marital status of the deceased individual.

However, when someone takes the time to create an estate plan that specifies how they want to distribute their assets when they die, children don’t have any specific inheritance rights. You won’t be able to challenge the estate plan just because it involves the unequal distribution of assets. In fact, even a complete disinheritance of some children won’t necessarily lead to grounds for a challenge either.

There could still be hope to push back against an unfair estate plan

Although you cannot challenge the estate plan or will just because of disappointment in how much of the estate you received, you might be able to bring a challenge if your situation meets other criteria.

Did your sibling who inherited the lion’s share of the estate serve as a caregiver? Do you suspect that they may have pressured your parents into changing their estate plan or otherwise committed some form of fraud? Do you believe that late changes to the estate plan occurred when your parent no longer had testamentary capacity? That could also give you the grounds to challenge their will.

Learning about when probate litigation is an option can hope those dealing with a seemingly unfair estate situation.