J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Attorney and CPA

Can uneven inheritances among children be fair?

Some parents in Polk County have spent a substantial amount of time thinking about how they will distribute the assets that they have accumulated during their lifetime once they pass away. Most of these parents have likely want their children to inherit at least some of their estate and assets. But when parents have more than one child, they may consider whether it is fair to split their assets unevenly amongst their children.

Most parents strive to love their children equally, and children tend to remember even the most minor instances of feeling slighted by their parents for unequal treatment. However, when it comes to inheritances, leaving each child an equal share may not always be the best course of action.

If, for example, one child has a dependable high-paying job but another has very limited resources, it may make more sense for the parents to leave a larger share of their assets to the child who has a less secure financial future. Doing so can, of course cause rifts between the parents and their children, and between the siblings. Thus, it is important for parents to understand the practical, as well as the emotional, sides of setting up unequal inheritances for their children.

Although these issues are rarely enjoyable to think about, let alone discuss, parents should have an open and honest conversation with their children about how they plan to distribute their property upon their death. Whether parents choose equal or unequal inheritance plans for their children, parents and their children should understand each other's feelings and logic on the issue. Furthermore, an experienced probate and estate attorney can help facilitate such a conversation. Taking this approach can save legal battles between the children down the road.

Source: The New York Times, "How a Will Treating Children Differently Can Still Be Fair," Paul Sullivan, Accessed on Aug. 18, 2016

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