Making your own estate plan gives you the space and flexibility to set terms that reflect your family’s needs. If you were to die without a last will, your spouse will receive a specific portion of your estate, while your children will typically equally split the remaining assets.
When an even split isn’t necessarily what’s fair, parents will invest time in the creation of an estate plan that includes uneven inheritances for their children. If you think that that approach is the one you will take for your legacy, you need to understand the possible consequences of leaving behind more for some family members than for others.
The discrepancy in what your loved ones receive could change over time
One way that people leave behind on equal inheritance has involved leaving different assets for different family members. However, a brokerage account and a home with the same base value at the time of a state plant planning could each have very different values and tax implications when the testator dies.
It can be hard to predict how investments or even real estate will fluctuate in value, so hiding the value discrepancies of your plan through the bequest of different kinds of assets may eventually cause discord among your heirs.
Family members may grow to resent each other or you
Maybe you had to spend two decades after high school helping support one of your children until they finally started their career in their forties. You might leave them less of an inheritance than their siblings because of how much financial support you provided during their life.
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that the recipient who gets less than others will feel that your decision is fair. They may grow angry at you or at their siblings who receive more from the estate. The result could be posthumous damage to your relationship with your children or the long-term alienation of your children from each other.
Displeasure with solutions perceived as unfair could lead to probate challenges
As if conflict within your family wasn’t concerning enough, the possibility also exists for beneficiaries from your estate to challenge your wishes because they view them as unfair or improperly influenced by the person receiving more than other beneficiaries.
Being cautious about how you split your assets up, disclosing your intentions to your family and even including a letter explaining the uneven allocation of assets can all help prevent challenges against your estate plan and family conflict after you die.