*This article features and quotes Laura K. Meier, Esq.*
Dividing up your estate among offspring can be a tricky business. Remember what happened to King Lear.
Seriously, there are many situations where the obvious option – an equal division of assets among children – is the right choice. But in some families, giving each child an identical inheritance might not make sense. As estate planning attorneys point out, there is a difference between leaving an equal inheritance, where each child receives the same amount, and an equitable inheritance, where each child receives what’s fair, given his or her circumstances.
So when does it make sense to leave each of your children the same inheritance, and when does a different arrangement make more sense? And how might each choice affect sibling harmony and whether your wishes are carried out as you intended?
When to Do Equal Amounts
If there are three children, each will get one-third of the remaining estate after both parents have passed away.
“It makes sense for each child to get the same inheritance when each child has similar needs and is similarly situated in life, each child has received similar support in the past from their parents, and each child is mentally and emotionally capable and responsible,” says Laura K. Meier, an estate planning attorney in Newport Beach, Calif., and the author of “Good Parents Worry, Great Parents Plan – Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning for Families of Young Children.”
For example, if your children have all completed college (with you paying their tuition) and no longer rely on you for financial assistance; if no child has a handicap or serious illness; and if all have demonstrated that they’re responsible with money, it’s logical to divide your assets evenly among them.
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