A person planning their estate for the first time is confronted with a lot of uncomfortable questions that they most likely have never had to address. There are medical decisions to be made, executors and trustees to be chosen and appointed, burial instructions to spell out, and perhaps most importantly for some, deciding who will inherit from you when you pass on. This question can often be a prickly subject amongst families, with spouses disagreeing and children being angered by the ultimate decisions.
Someone Will Always Be Upset
There are many different strategies that testators, those preparing their will, employ in deciding who will inherit from their estate and how much they will be inheriting. Many parents are often uncomfortable with leaving their children unequal amounts of inheritance. Often testators believe that if they leave an unequal amount amongst the children that it may indicate that they loved or preferred one child over the others.
This may be an oversimplification, but for testators who are worried about causing disharmony in their family after they pass, this is often the solution that they come to. But leaving an equal amount to each child may not necessarily be fair. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing who will inherit and how much.
Consider All the Factors
Testators should always consider the impact of giving their assets to a person after they pass. Many people are not good at managing their money. Young adults who receive large amounts of money tend to spend it rather quickly, and many adult children may struggle with alcohol or gambling addictions. Giving money to these children after you pass may only enable their negative or irresponsible behavior.
Similarly, some children may have greater need than others of money. Often times, a child may find themselves in unfortunate circumstances due to no fault of their own. Parents may want to provide more for a child who is struggling than for their other children who are thriving.
Parents may also seek to compensate children who cared for them in their old age through their will. It is a very common occurrence that one child will be closer to their parents than the others, often providing support and staying in constant contact. Some parents may seek to reward some children over others for keeping a close relationship.
No Right or Wrong Answers
There is no right or wrong decision when it comes to who a person leaves their assets to. No matter who a person decides to leave their estate to, it is important that the testator is comfortable with their decisions and that those decisions are what the testator actually wants. When a person is planning their estate, they are deciding how to distribute their assets that they have accumulated over the course of their life. There is no better person to decide how a person’s assets should be distributed than the person who is leaving them behind.
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