When it comes to dividing your estate among your children, doing things “fairly” isn’t always as simple as it sounds. Will you split things equally, no matter what? Some of your children may have squandered their resources while another has grown theirs. One child may require more financial support because of disability, but the others may be in perfect health.
The definition of “fair” can have multiple meanings in these situations. So how do you decide how much to leave to each child, and what role does your estate planning consultant have in this process?
Consider the Backstory
As you plan your estate, it’s helpful to consider the reasons behind each child’s financial circumstances. For example, perhaps John has no money because he refuses to seek help for his gambling addiction, while Jane’s lack of resources is due to her lifesaving, but expensive, medical treatments.
Should John and Jane be trusted with an equal share of your assets, or would it be fair to leave the majority to Jane? Or perhaps the assets are divided equally, but John’s share comes with a stipulation that he receive professional help for his addiction. Would this, too, be considered fair?
Obviously, these situations are fraught with complexity. They should be approached with as much objectivity as possible, and with the understanding that “fair” depends on a multitude of complicated factors.
While the splitting of assets should be left to the parent’s discretion, it’s wise to alert children to any inequalities in the size of the shares. This way, there is an opportunity for discussion with each child before the parent’s death, preventing unpleasant surprises or feelings of resentment afterward.
Of course, even the best-laid plans can go awry. That’s why it’s important to outline any potential issues with your estate planning consultant and make sure they understand the possible objections your children may have regarding your will. Keep in mind that if you die without a will, the task of dividing of your assets will fall to the state — removing your wishes from the picture completely.
Bradford & Holliman Are Your Estate Planning Consultants in Alabama!
Attorneys John Holliman and Melanie Bradford Holliman have decades of combined experience in estate planning. With a staff that treats you like family, you can count on them to listen to your concerns, help solve your problems, and steer you in the right direction.
Contact Bradford & Holliman, LLC to learn about estate planning tools, wills, trusts, asset protection, estate tax planning and other important matters. Find out why an estate plan is the best option for you, no matter your age or financial status. Bradford & Holliman is here to help!