Ask any parent with more than one child and they’ll probably tell you that “fair” and “equal” are far from the same thing. One child’s needs don’t necessarily match the needs of the other child.
That’s a hard reality to navigate when the kids are young – but what do you do when your adult children also have drastically different needs? Is it fair to leave one child more from your estate than you do the other? It might be. These are three situations that may particularly justify unequal bequests.
One child has permanent disabilities
It’s not unusual for parents who have a disabled child to tilt their estate plans heavily in that child’s favor, especially if their other children are healthy and self-sufficient. Money and assets can be funneled into special needs trusts that won’t affect the disabled adult child’s access to needs-based benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid, while still providing for their comfort.
One child has suffered significant setbacks in life
Sometimes, it may seem like bad luck hovers like a dark cloud over one child’s head, and that can prompt parents to leave them a more robust inheritance than their siblings. If, for example, you have several children who are well-off and successful and one that has suffered due to a child’s health issues, the loss of a spouse or other personal tragedies that’s affected their stability, an unequal inheritance may help provide them with much-needed financial resources.
One child has sacrificed a lot for your well-being
As you age, you may come to rely heavily on your children for care and assistance. If one child moves in with you (or moves you in with them) and becomes your caregiver in your final years, it may only feel natural to leave them more of your estate.
Unequal inheritances have become more common over recent decades, but you need to approach the situation carefully if you want to avoid family drama and conflicts after you’re gone. Learn more about your options, talk to your family and make your decisions with both eyes open.