How can you approach unequal inheritances with your children?

If you have children, you likely love all them equally. Yet, when it comes to estate planning, you will need to consider more than the strength of your relationship with them. Your children may have differing circumstances and needs, and it may be inappropriate to leave them equal inheritances. If you decide to leave them unequal shares of your estate, it is crucial that you discuss this decision with them during your lifetime.

Why parents leave unequal inheritances to their children

You will likely want to leave your children equal inheritances if their circumstances are similar. Yet, there are many reasons that you may choose to leave them unequal inheritances instead. It is possible that your decision is rooted in matters of responsibility, since you will want to preserve your estate to the best of your ability. If one of your children struggles with addiction or has a history of making bad financial decisions, leaving them an equal inheritance to their siblings may put them at risk of squandering it.

Conversely, leaving your children unequal inheritances may make sense in cases of legitimate need. One of your children may have a less lucrative career than their siblings. By leaving them a greater share of your estate, you may feel that you are helping level the playing field. Or, one of your children may have a disability, and is unable to support themselves. In this case, you may need to set aside the bulk of your estate for their care.

Explaining your decision to your children

You will likely ruffle your adult children’s feathers when you tell them you plan on leaving them unequal inheritances. Yet, it is crucial to address your decision with them while you are alive so you can help them understand your reasoning. It is possible your children will have no issues with your decision, especially if they acknowledge the differences in their circumstances. If your children have valid objections to your decision, though, you can use your discussion as an opportunity to take them into account.

Leaving unequal inheritances to your children is a difficult decision to make. Yet, by discussing your reasoning with them now, you may be able to prevent disputes about your estate down the road. If you have any concerns about your decision, you may want to address them with an estate planning attorney.