Estate planning 101: What if I do not plan to give my children an equal inheritance?

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2023 | Estate Planning

Perhaps one child is a doctor, the other a struggling teacher. One child has addiction issues, the other volunteers at local charitable organizations. One child aligns with your values, the other does not. Even in situations where parents know the right choice is an unequal inheritance, the decision is likely to cause unrest within the family.

Unrest is one thing. A legal challenge is another. Unrest that escalates into an official challenge is not uncommon. This challenge can pose an issue not only because it can delay the distribution of the estate, but it can also result in a costly legal battle.

Parents who have chosen an unequal distribution plan can mitigate this risk. Two of the most useful ways to help achieve this goal often include the following.

#1: Draft wisely.

First, make sure the estate plan is drafted within the bounds of the law. Without meeting legal requirements, a will is not valid.

A concern about validity could trigger a legal challenge and the challenger may have a successful case if certain elements are not met. Examples can include having the will typed out or written and signed by two witnesses.

#2: Communicate.

It is also important to be open with your plan and, if possible, the reasoning behind your choices. When people around you, including the heirs, are aware of the plan they are less likely to be surprised.

Legal battle can result from honest confusion, a thought that there was a mistake. Parents can address this proactively by explaining their plan openly with their children and other heirs.