Treating Children Differently in a Last Will

“Share and share alike” goes the adage. If only it were so simple when it comes to estate planning.

When considering children in a last will, most parents want to leave what they have to be divided equally among all their children—usually following the death of both parents. While this is the norm for many families, there are many instances in which parents choose to treat one child differently from other children in a last will.

In some cases, the parents may have no relationship with a wayward child. There may have been a falling out and an end to the relationship years ago. In other situations, the parents may feel that one child has a greater need for the money than his/her siblings.

Finally, there are situations in which a child is simply unable to manage his or her own inheritance due to health or substance issues (to be clear, in these cases, it is also possible to protect the child’s money by leaving it in a trust which should be discussed with a lawyer).

Whatever the reason, leaving dissimilar amounts to children in a will can often lead to problems. Having practiced estate litigation in the past, I know that deflated expectations are often the source of estate disputes. Rightly or wrongly, an inheritance is often treated by a child as an expression of love.

Speaking with an estate lawyer about how to properly address concerns you may have in estate planning will likely reduce the chances of conflict in the future.

Thanks for reading,

Jason

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