As a parent, you may have a focus on being fair to your children when you create your estate plan. But that may not necessarily mean that they all get an equal amount.
For instance, maybe you have a certain heir that you feel may waste the inheritance, so you want to leave them less. Or perhaps you have an heir who is much better off financially than their siblings, so you want to leave them less simply because they don’t need it as much.
Should you take this route and leave them unequal bequests? Are there any problems with doing so?
It does make disputes more likely
You certainly can use unequal bequests if you’d like, and there’s some evidence that these have become more common. It is a bit more difficult than simply leaving the exact same amount of assets to every one of your children, but it can help you accomplish your goals. Plus, as noted above, you are focused on trying to be fair to everyone. You have a good reason for the decisions that you make.
The problem is that it can make estate disputes more likely, and it can harm the relationships between your children. What if one of the children doesn’t agree with your reasoning for giving them less money? Are they going to blame their brothers and sisters? Are they going to feel like you love them less? All these emotional details may cause them to start an estate dispute or it may just create a rift between them and the rest of your family.
If you do want to do something like this, it’s best to begin working on your plan well in advance so that you can also talk to your heirs about your goals and the decisions you’ve made.