Should the Inheritance be Equal?

For some parents the decision of how to leave their estate to their children is easy. The kids are all doing fine, they get along well, so the inheritance is left in equal shares.

For other parents, the decision isn’t that easy. One child may have a disability, and will never be self supporting. One child may have been the caregiver, while the other lives far away and rarely visits. One child may have already received an advance on the inheritance in the form of loans that were supposed to have been paid back, but weren’t.

No one is entitled to an inheritance and it’s the parents’ choice on how to leave their estate. Unfortunately, there are many children who don’t understand that concept. They won’t be happy getting a lesser share, and might take steps to fight the plan.

If there are reasons to disinherit a child, or to leave more to one child, that’s what the parents should do. But the plan must be carefully designed to minimize the risk of trouble from the child who is left out or left less.

Because probate of a Will in Georgia requires that all the heirs be given the opportunity to contest the Will, making unequal distributions in a Will is not good planning. Probate avoidance techniques like payable on death account designations or living trusts should be utilized. A “no contest” clause can be included in a trust to incentivize the child who is left a lesser amount to accept that amount and not contest it, because the clause states that anyone who contests will get nothing.

Sometimes the parents want to explain the plan to the children and attempt to soothe any ruffled feathers. Sometimes the children don’t find out what the plan is until after both parents have died. Every family is different, and there is no right or wrong way to handle disclosure of an unequal plan.

The key factor in leaving an unequal inheritance is to make sure the plan is designed to minimize the risk it might be prevented from being carried out.

If you need help in figuring out how to choose to leave your inheritance, then we invite you to contact our office and schedule an appointment today. We can help develop the right estate plan for you and your needs to make sure you are able to take care of all your loved ones.


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