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Can Parents Unequally Divide Assets Among Their Children?


If you have assets, it is up to you to decide who inherits what after your passing. When you have children, making such a decision can be extremely difficult, especially if you are closer to one child and not close to the other(s). Also, deciding what to live for each child can be difficult if the circumstances of your children are dramatically different.

Suppose you have more than one child and a family company. In such a case, is it fair to give all your children equal shares of stock in the company if one child spent ten years helping you build the firm while the others did nothing to help? Or, suppose one child goes above and beyond to care for you at home while the others don’t help. In such a situation, would it be unfair if you left the child that cared for you a greater share of inheritance than your other children? Generally, is equality always fair?

On the surface, the answers to the above questions may seem quite obvious. The child who helps their parents build the family business and the one who goes above and beyond to care for their parents should inherit more than the other children, right? As more parents today are leaving unequal inheritances to their adult children, only a competent estate planning attorney can guide you on whether or not leaving unequal inheritances to your children is a good idea in your case. So, if, for whatever reason, you are considering giving one of your children more inheritance than your other children, it would be best for you to speak to a qualified estate planning attorney.

Even though more parents are leaving unequal inheritances to their children, the vast majority of parents are distributing inheritances equally among children. Most probably, those parents that choose equal division, despite the circumstances, do so to prevent sibling rivalry or conflicts. When a parent decides to leave one child with more inheritance than the other, the one getting an unequal share will most likely choose to file a lawsuit to challenge the unequal distribution. Such a child might assert a claim such as undue influence. Nonetheless, even when parents choose to distribute inheritance among siblings equally, conflicts and rivalry can still arise. A child who feels they deserve a larger share of inheritance might decide to file a claim in court to achieve the result, which is, being granted a larger share.

The bottom line is that parents can divide assets equally or unequally among their children. However, it is crucial that you make a decision only after thorough consideration of all possible outcomes. Additionally, working closely with an experienced estate planning lawyer can ensure you do what is right for your particular situation.

Allow The Probate Guy to Help You

If you want to get started on estate planning and are unsure about how you should distribute your assets to your loved ones, speak to a competent lawyer. The skilled California estate planning lawyer Rober L. Cohen of The Probate Guy is willing and available to provide you with legal guidance and help you with estate planning. Contact our office today.


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