Will You Treat Your Children Differently in Your Will?
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Thinking about and writing your will can be hard enough – no one wants to think about their own mortality. Worse is really sitting down and determining how to best divide your assets among your heirs, especially if you want to “get creative” and divide your estate unevenly, giving each heir what you believe will benefit them most.
Your intent is genuine. You would really like to help out a child who isn’t doing as well financially as his sibling, or, a disabled child who may need financial help ongoing. In my experience this does not always go well.
For heirs, this last gift can be seen as the ultimate culmination of what a parent thought of their child, or children. A successful son who inherits a token amount while the bulk of the estate goes to his struggling kin may feel punished for his success. A disinherited “no-good” child, receiving nothing, often uses the opportunity to take out hurtful feelings on her siblings or contest the will and hold up any distribution of assets.
I’ve not actually seen many cases where an uneven distribution of wealth is handled with generosity and good will by all parties. If you are committed to splitting your estate according to the needs of your heirs, one way to try to ease the situation is to have the discussion with your family members now, while you can all explain your feelings and desires.
Gifts are love, and when this final gift is dealt differently you may be making a statement you don’t intend. Read New York Times author Paul Sullivan as he walks readers through how to have this discussion with your family.
You may also be interested in: Managing Wealth in the Golden Years