All Heirs Are Not (Always) Created Equally

NBA_Desert_Law_Estate_PlanningEstate planning is not a one-size-fits-all activity.  There is no law that requires all of your potential heirs to inherit equal parts of your estate.  If you have multiple heirs, whether or not you want your children or grandchildren to take equally is a decision you will have to make.

There are plenty of reasons to leave a larger portion of an estate to one heir over another – this is not a case of merely picking favorites.  Perhaps one child has had more children, or you have given one child a down payment on a house and not the other.  Maybe one child has extensive medical bills that have piled up because of a health issue.

Still, while the act of leaving one child more than another in a will can be based in sound reasoning and love, it may leave your heirs in a state of shock and discord.  Open communication is the key to avoiding hurt feelings and nasty fights.  Letting your children know ahead of time what your thought process is and how you made your decisions will ease any potential blow later on.

Of course, when it comes to inheritances, there is no guaranty that full disclosure will lead to a happy ending.  But preparing your heirs for any inequality that may come after your death is imperative.  When children know their parents’ wishes, it is easier for those desires to be fulfilled.

Also keep in mind that situations change.  Perhaps your heir who has her life together and has a successful career falls on hard times.  If you had in your will to give more to your other child since he was not as “together” as her, you should rethink your plan.  Estate plans are living documents.  When circumstances change, or you simply haven’t updated your estate plan in while, review your will or trust.  See your estate planner more than once.