Torts and Estates: Remedying Wrongful Interference with Inheritance

65 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2012 Last revised: 6 Jun 2013

See all articles by John C. P. Goldberg

John C. P. Goldberg

Harvard Law School

Robert H. Sitkoff

Harvard University - Harvard Law School; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: January 26, 2013


This Article examines the nature, origin, and policy soundness of the tort of interference with inheritance. We argue that the tort should be repudiated because it is conceptually and practically unsound. Endorsed by the Second Restatement of Torts and recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in a recent decision, the tort has been adopted by courts in nearly half the states. But it is deeply problematic from the perspectives of both inheritance law and tort law. It undermines the core principle of freedom of disposition that undergirds American inheritance law. It invites circumvention of principled policies encoded in the specialized rules of procedure applicable in inheritance disputes. In many cases, it has displaced venerable and better-fitting causes of action for equitable relief.

JEL Classification: D10, D64, H31, K11, K13, K41

Suggested Citation

Goldberg, John C. P. and Sitkoff, Robert H., Torts and Estates: Remedying Wrongful Interference with Inheritance (January 26, 2013). Stanford Law Review, Vol. 65, 2013, Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 13-10, Available at SSRN:

John C. P. Goldberg

Harvard Law School ( email )

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Robert H. Sitkoff (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Law School ( email )

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European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

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