Parents usually want to leave their children equal shares of their estate, but equal isn’t always fair. If you plan to provide more (or less) for one child in your estate plan, preparation is important.
It is natural for parents to want to treat their children equally in their estate plan, but there are some circumstances in which a parent might want to leave children unequal shares. If one child is providing all the caregiving, the parent might want to reward that child with a greater share. If one child is substantially better off than another child, then the parent might want to provide more for the child who has a greater need for the funds.
Other factors that can influence how much to give each child is if one child has special needs or if there is a family business that only one child wants to run. It’s also possible that the parents have already provided more for one child during their lifetime, maybe by paying for college or helping them buy a house.
Whatever the reason for leaving your children unequal shares, the important thing is to discuss your reasoning with the children. Sit down with them and explain your decision-making process. Although you do not need their permission regarding your own estate plan, this discussion could serve to preserve their relationship with each other when you are no longer around to be the family arbiter.
Regardless of an understanding at the time of your family meeting, memories do fade. Memories can become even more fuzzy when a child, who had previously acquiesced to a smaller inheritance from his parents, is in a difficult financial situation or is getting pressure from his or her spouse to not settle for less.
Unfortunately, at that time you will not be around to clarify your wishes.
Capturing your wishes on a validly executed Will is always important and especially important when leaving unequal distributions to your natural heirs. Contact our office for your Estate Planning needs.