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Should you leave your children an equal inheritance?

When you have multiple kids, determining how you will divvy up your assets between them can be a delicate business. To avoid future conflicts around fairness and favorites, many parents opt for the most straightforward choice – each child gets an equal share of their estate.

But while giving each child an identical inheritance may seem like the best option for avoiding sibling rivalries, “equal” may not necessarily mean “fair” when it comes to your family’s dynamics. Here are a few things to keep in mind when determining your children’s inheritance:

When to consider equal amounts

If each of your children is similarly situated in life, it might make the most sense to leave them an equal inheritance. If you’ve more or less provided your kids with the same amount of financial support over the years, like paying for each of their college educations, giving them an equal share is likely the logical solution.

Even if you don’t necessarily think all of your kids deserve an equal share of your estate, doing so may spare your family from future lawsuits. If there’s a strong likelihood of a kid contesting a will after you pass on, it can take a huge financial and emotional toll on your loved ones.

When to consider different amounts

There are many instances in which an equal inheritance doesn’t make sense for your children. Perhaps you’ve helped out one child more than another when they were in financial need, or maybe one of your children cannot provide for themselves. You may also have a blended family and wish to leave a more significant share for your biological children than your stepchildren.

Other times, a child may have demonstrated that they don’t deserve an equal share. Maybe they have an addiction you don’t want to support or have been irresponsible with their money in the past.

The bottom line

While never easy, the decision of how you should divide your estate is ultimately yours. However, it would help if you considered the relationships your kids have with one another and the financial support you’ve given them in the past to determine the best course of action. If there’s a significant risk that your family will try to fight your final wishes, giving everyone an equal share may be the most harmonious option.

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