Sibling inheritance laws and rights attorney lawyer near me

The Guide to Sibling Inheritance Laws and Rights

Sibling inheritance laws and rights are clearly defined in California, and most U.S. states, by probate code intestacy laws. If an individual dies without a will, their surviving spouse, domestic partner, and children are given an inheritance priority. If there are no surviving spouse, domestic partner, nor children, then their surviving parents are next in line. Surviving siblings inherit assets only if there are no surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, nor parents.

What are sibling inheritance laws and rights?

In California and most states, siblings are not given a high priority in the order of inheritance. If there’s no will, states follow probate code intestate succession laws. These inheritance laws are based on probate codes that usually are decades or centuries old. The result is some confusion. Let’s clear up that confusion.

First, what is intestate succession or intestacy?

Intestate succession refers to a state’s probate code or inheritance law that dictates how a decedent’s assets are to be distributed (inherited) upon their death if the decedent did not leave a last will and testament, nor create a trust. Each state has its own, specific intestacy laws, however they tend to be very similar. Intestate succession generally awards the decedent’s assets (inheritance) to the surviving spouse, domestic partner, biological children, and adopted children first.

If there is no surviving spouse, domestic partner, biological children, nor adopted children, then the intestate succession order and distributions go to the decedent’s other surviving kin.

When are siblings awarded an inheritance?

In general, if your sibling dies without a will, you will only inherit if your sibling has no living spouse, domestic partner, child, adopted child, grandchild, or parent. If that’s the case, then surviving siblings are given equal inheritance distributions.

My sibling had a will, but I wasn’t named in it. Can I still get an inheritance?

If your deceased sibling left a will, in which you weren’t named, it’s highly unlikely that you will receive an inheritance. However, if the will names only heirs and beneficiaries who are themselves all deceased, then you may be entitled to an inheritance via intestacy laws.

When are nieces and nephews awarded an inheritance?

If there are no surviving siblings, then the surviving nieces and nephews of those siblings are awarded inheritances, equally divided amongst surviving nieces and nephews.  Again, only if there is no surviving spouse, children, etc.

When are stepbrothers and stepsisters awarded an inheritance?

Step-siblings never inherit, unless they were adopted by the decedent’s parent, in which case they are considered equal to natural siblings and receive their share of the decedent’s estate along and equally with those natural siblings.

Do all siblings have the same rights?

When there is no will, all siblings have equal rights to an inheritance. However, if one sibling feels they should be awarded a larger distribution, they may seek to a portion of the estate through other means. We have successfully recovered larger portions of intestate inheritances for the following reasons:

  • Individual provided significantly more care for the decedent and was promised a larger share of the estate
  • Individual paid for significantly more services for the decedent and is entitled to reimbursement
  • Individual provided unique services to the decedent for which compensation is owed

If you are sibling, and feel you deserve a more significant inheritance than other siblings, contact us anytime with your questions. The consultation is always free.

Do half-siblings, stepbrothers, and stepsisters have the same rights?

No. Half-siblings have the same intestacy rights as full siblings.  Conversely, as set forth above, stepbrothers and stepsisters have no intestacy rights.

What should I do if I believe I am entitled to a share of my sibling’s estate?

Contact a probate litigation attorney as soon as your sibling passes, so a determination can be made about what rights you may have. The sooner you get help, the higher your odds of getting more of your rightful inheritance faster.

Do I need a probate litigation lawyer near me?

We recommend finding an experienced probate litigation attorney familiar with the county probate court in the county where the decedent lived. For example, if the decedent lived in Orange County, we recommend working with a probate litigation attorney in Orange County. An Orange County probate lawyer will generally be more familiar with the County of Orange Superior Court, versus an out of state attorney.

Have questions? Contact us any time.
[email protected] or call (424) 320-9444

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About RMO Lawyers, LLP

RMO LLP provides personal and efficient inheritance dispute services to individual and institutional clients. The firm’s attorneys focus on probate litigation involving contested trust, estate, probate, and conservatorship matters. Serving California and Texas, with offices in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Orange County, San Diego, Fresno, the Bay Area, Dallas, and Houston. For more information, please visit

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About the Author

Scott Rahn, Founding Partner​

Scott Rahn resolves contests, disputes and litigation related to trusts, estates and conservatorships, creating a welcome peace of mind for clients. He represents heirs, beneficiaries, trustees and executors. He utilizes his experience to develop and implement strategies that swiftly and efficiently address the financial issues, fiduciary duties and emotional complexities underlying trust contests, estates conflicts and probate litigation.

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