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Should each child get the same inheritance?

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2021 | Estate Planning |

If you’re working on your will, one of the questions you may have is if you should give all of your children the same inheritance to avoid will contests. Certainly, there is a possibility that your children could fight over their inheritances if your will does not dole out equal amounts to each of them, but you aren’t obligated to give them each the same amount.

An equal division of your assets between your children is fair if all else is equal. For example, if none of your children are better off than the others or none have been supported by you more than the others, then splitting the assets equally may be fair. On the other hand, if you have provided significant support to one of your children but not to two others, then you may feel it’s necessary to reduce one child’s inheritance and to raise the inheritances for the two who received less support in the past.

An equitable inheritance may be a fair inheritance

It is reasonable to leave a fair inheritance behind instead of an equal inheritance. If you want to do this, there are steps you can take to prevent will contests, too.

To start with, you should sit down and talk to your children about the inheritances. Tell them if they will not be equal, and give them time to argue with you or debate your decision. Then, you will be able to inform them if you change your mind or state that you have made your final decision. With an attorney present during this meeting, you’ll also have a witness to support your decision.

Another thing you can do is to record or write down your wishes to go with those inheritances when they’re distributed. Video content of you expressing your wishes and explaining why you divided assets in the way you did may help you prevent conflicts.

Finally, consider including a no-contest clause. Depending on where your final will is written, this may or may not be legal, so be sure to discuss it in your final state of residency. A no-contest clause, when allowed, will prevent your children from contesting a will. If they do contest it, they risk losing their inheritance if they lose the legal battle over your will.

These are a few things to consider when you’re thinking about how to divide your children’s inheritances. You need to do what is right for your family, even if that isn’t giving each child an equal share.