The Psychology Behind Inheritance Disputes And How To Best Resolve Them

After a person dies, all of their belongings are given to the person to whom they have gifted them in their will. Unfortunately, however, sometimes people’s families dispute their deceased relative’s wills. An inheritance dispute can occur for any number of reasons, but the most common reason is that the deceased person’s relatives think that they should be entitled to a greater share of their estate.

Inheritance disputes are never nice and often cause family feuds. If you are interested in the psychological aspects behind inheritance disputes, then this post’s got you covered. In addition to the psychology behind them, you will also find out how to resolve such disputes here.

Resolving Inheritance Disputes

Before addressing this post’s main subject and explaining what causes inheritance disputes, it is first important to explain how they can be resolved. Regardless of what’s causing an inheritance dispute, it is important to act fast and to try and resolve it. An inheritance dispute can cause a rift in your family, alienating your loved ones from one another. Most experts agree that the best way to resolve an inheritance dispute is to contact an attorney. According to the legal specialists from Forbes & Forbes Attorneys at Law, attorneys can provide you with a personalised approach to your case, ensuring that your loved one’s will is handled according to their wishes. Make sure that you do your research before hiring an attorney so that you can hire the one that’s most experienced.

In terms of the emotional aspects surrounding your family’s inheritance dispute, counselling is a very good way of resolving your issues. The difficulty with getting people to go ahead with counseling is that because money’s involved, people can be very reluctant to compromise and agree to therapy. If it is possible for you to do so, then you should sit down with your family and discuss the dispute maturely. Try to avoid picking sides, otherwise, you will make the situation worse. Unless there is clear evidence that your loved one was put under duress and forced to leave their belongings to somebody, then you should honour their wishes and go along with what they have specified in their will.

Identifying Duress

A common cause of inheritance disputes is suspected duress. Duress is when a person is forced to take a course of action or agree to something, usually under threat of violence.

If your loved one met a new partner in the weeks or months leading up to their death, if they have suddenly removed you or your family members from their will or left everything to them, then duress is a possibility. Unfortunately, however, duress can be very hard to prove.

Most people’s families will immediately claim duress if a stranger is added to their loved one’s will, even if they don’t have any evidence. Before you can claim that your deceased loved one was under duress, you need some hard evidence, such as a confession.


Moving onto the psychological aspects of inheritance disputes, sometimes they are caused by greed. When a person’s family believes that they are more entitled to their deceased loved one’s belongings than somebody else, it is usually because they are being possessive and think that that person owed them their inheritance. Greed can be a driving factor behind inheritance disputes, although this isn’t always the case. It is very easy to identify somebody who is being greedy when it comes to inheritance disputes. If you suspect a loved one is just being greedy, then you should call them out on it.


Another psychological reason for inheritance disputes is existing family conflict, exacerbated by the deceased loved one’s will. For example, if two sisters have long-running problems with each other and their dead father leaves his entire estate to one of them, then the other sister, already disliking her sister, will use it as an excuse to start another conflict with her. Not only can inheritances make existing conflicts a lot worse, but they can create new ones. Family members can side with one particular person, alienating the people on the other side of the dispute and destroying their relationship with them.


Sometimes people dispute inheritances because they feel that they had a much stronger connection with the deceased person and want their belongings for sentimental reasons. People who have been looking after their loved ones in their final years might feel that they are more entitled to their loved one’s belongings because they were there towards the end than their other relatives are. The previously mentioned situation is actually very common and, unfortunately, can be hard to resolve. Occasionally, courts side with people who base their disputes on these kinds of situations since they invested a lot of their time into looking after their loved ones.


After a loved one’s death, tensions can run very high. Sometimes it is the case that inheritance disputes arise because people are very emotional, and finding out that their loved one has left their belongings to somebody other than them (or more of their belongings to somebody other than them) can be the spark that ignites the fire. If emotions are to blame, inheritance disputes can usually be resolved amicably. With that said, things can be said that can turn into long-standing disagreements. If you suspect that emotions are the cause of your family’s inheritance dispute, then counseling may be a suitable option since it can help you all to work through everything.


It is very common for elderly people to make grand promises to their loved ones, such as ‘you can have my house when I die’ or ‘this piece of jewelry will be yours after I go.’ Often, these things are meant when they are said. Unfortunately, though, they are often said in privacy and, therefore, cannot be proven. Inheritance disputes often arise because of this. When one’s loved one dies and the things that they have promised people aren’t given to them, people naturally become upset.

Inheritance disputes can be very hard to work through. Unfortunately, they often cause long-standing family rifts and disputes. If you are currently going through an inheritance dispute, then involve a lawyer, and try to get your family to have an open conversation so that you can all work through your issues.