Don’t expect a settlement in an inheritance dispute


Image result for To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell's heart, I stab at thee; For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee. Herman Melville

People can live with a bad money settlement, but they have a hard time living with injustice.   

Here is a good tip: Don’t enter into litigation in an inheritance dispute with the assumption that your case will settle.  Don’t expect that the relative whom you are suing will eventually “cave” under the pressure of an inheritance lawsuit.

Litigation is nasty business.  It is traumatic.  It is emotional.  It is gut-wrenching.   And, that is just when businesses sue each other.  In a family context, however, the hatred and anger involved with a litigation gets taken to new heights.

Think about it.  What are some of the most emotional and hardest fights you ever had?  They probably involve a family member or a loved one… right?

Well, now think of dragging that family fight into a public arena…into a court setting, where thousands (if not -hundreds of thousands) of dollars are being paid to attorneys to fight, and where allegations of fraud, theft, neglect, and abuse are all being made on the public record.

Not only that, remember in these types of disputes– each side really believes that he or she “is in the right”.  Each party feels that the other family member is the wrongdoer.  Each party feels that it would be an injustice to let the offending family member get away with whatever has been alleged.  Therefore, the parties, fight, and fight, and fight, and fight… sometimes to their last breath.


They say that a criminal lawyer gets to see bad people acting their best, and a divorce lawyer gets to see good people acting their worst. Well lawyers who deal with inheritance disputes get to see entire families acting their worst.

What does all of this mean for purposes of this blog post?  It means that once you decide to step foot into the litigation arena over an inheritance dispute, be prepared to go the distance.  Settling is not just about dollars and sense in this context, it is about justice and injustice.  People
can live with a bad money settlement, but they have a hard time living with injustice.

Don’t ever fool yourself into thinking that the offending family member will easily “fold” if they are sued, or their alleged wrongdoings are made public.  They don’t, at least not until the earth is completely scorched and they have no will or money to keep fighting… their “last dying breath.”  Until their “last dying breath”, however, they will keep on stabbing each other.. just for spite or justice.  Take your pick.

The bottom line is try to do everything you can to avoid family fights over inheritance.  Be proactive.  Because, remember, inheritance is poison.