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Inheritance Theft by Siblings

Whether it’s a will or trust, a brother or sister may try to steal from you or disadvantage you through fraud and malicious suits. Anger, disappointment, fear, and hurt are some of the emotions you’ll feel if you fall victim to inheritance theft.

However, it’s important to remember that you have the power to decide how to act regardless of what your brother or sister did. Therefore, try to take a calm, measured approach.

Work with an objective third party who can guide the process and make well-informed decisions, such as an experienced trust litigation attorney.

Hess-Verdon estate litigation lawyers protect your rights in and out of court. We can help to ensure that you and your family are protected from inheritance theft.

Why Choose Hess-Verdon as a Trustee of a Trust

Hess-Verdon is in Newport Beach. We have 30 years’ experience in estate planning law. We have helped many clients protect their estate, grow their estate, and pass it down to their loved ones through various legal instruments.


Our estate lawyers can help you administer or contest a trust or will. We also have expertise in business law and elder abuse law. Expect personalized services that put you in control. Request a no-obligation case assessment.


Legal Action Against Family

Siblings who steal estate assets from an irrevocable trust are generally prosecuted as civil offenders. However, if you suspect theft or have evidence that your brother or sister has stolen your inheritance or assets, you can request legal action.

Though it is uncommon for our clients to want to jail their siblings, it is an option. We can bring up charges to force a sibling to return stolen assets or your inheritance from the estate. Although mediation and other out-court dispute resolution measures may help, sometimes, the only way to protect your rights is through litigation.

A letter, even one written by a lawyer, may sound nice, but it accomplishes nothing. It is only through court orders that action can be forced. It is only through filing a lawsuit that you can obtain a court order. You have no choice but to go to court if your sibling ignores your letters and written requests.

Unlawfully drafted wills or trusts should not be used. In the case of a Will, specific conditions must be met before a Will can be legally validly signed.

You Can Sue Your Brother or Sister if:

He/she exercised undue influence on the trustor: If you suspect that you suspect that he/she exerted influence over the trust, there are legal grounds to challenge the validity of the trust or will. Their duress may have caused the will or trust creator to act in his favor against their better. In other words, the parent made a Will or trust, having been unduly influenced and reflecting the other person’s wishes instead of using their own judgment.

He/she is blocking executor/ trustee duties: Executors and trustees have a fiduciary duty to act in the interest of beneficiaries. If your brother or sister stops their duties, e.g., accounting, reporting, and distributions, you have grounds to take legal action. You can file a suit to have the trustee or executor removed if they are in collusion with the greedy sibling.

He/she is blocking liquidation: Jointly held inheritance raises even more challenges in terms of sibling rivalry. For example, if your brother or sister doesn’t want to sell a jointly held asset, say a home, you can get a court order to have it liquidated.

You Need Professional Legal Defense if:

  • Your brother or sister is falsely accusing you of having undue influence over the trust.
  • You don’t want to be placed in a position to liquidate jointly held inheritance that is of sentimental value to you.

How to deal with greedy family members

Find evidence

Be sure that you can prove their theft or attempts to steal your inheritance. Work with an trust litigation attorney to compile the evidence you need for your case.


Don’t take the assumption that there is wrong doing until you have proper evidence.  Keep communicating till you get the evidence you need. Maintain calm and soberness in the process.  It can serve you well.

Threaten legal action

If they do not cooperate, inform them that you will file a lawsuit. Tell them that you would prefer to work things out before heading to court.

Go to court

Disputing inheritance against a brother or sister is very difficult. You need an experienced attorney that is used to dealing with family dynamics in a trust litigation. During the conflict, you must stand up for what your parents intended for you and the beneficiaries.

In any situation where one or more family members are unhappy about the distribution of assets, it is essential to seek the advice and help of an experienced trust attorney. Call Hess-Verdon at (949) 706-7300.