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Minimizing conflict if you want to leave your children unequal inheritances

The essence of a well-done estate plan is that it distributes the testator’s wealth to their heirs with a minimal tax impact — and a minimum of conflict. With everything carefully and properly taken care of, a person who might wish to challenge the validity of your will or trust would have virtually no legitimate complaint to take to probate court.

But just because your heirs probably won’t engage in estate litigation after you pass away, it does not mean there definitely won’t be any hurt feelings. This is one of the risks if you decide to leave unequal amounts of your estate to your children. Or especially if you plan to disinherit one of them entirely. Naturally, those getting less (or nothing at all) are liable to become angry or hurt when they find out.

Why parents sometimes leave different inheritances

People who choose to leave different amounts to different children have their reasons for doing so. Common justifications include:

  • One child relied on you for more financial support over the years than the others, so in a sense, they have already received part of their inheritance
  • One of your children took on the duty of caring for you and/or your spouse in your old age and deserves special consideration
  • You and your spouse both have children from previous marriages who were adults when you got married, and you each want to leave most of your inheritance to your biological kids
  • Your relationship with one of your children is strained or even nonexistent

Whatever reasons you have for unequal inheritances, keep in mind that your children might not understand, at least at first. That is why having expert legal counsel during the estate planning process – especially if you choose to disinherit a child – is critical.

If you have questions regarding an existing estate plan, would like to update your estate plan, or need to prepare an estate plan for the first time, contact Bashian P.C.

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