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Do I have to leave the same amount to each of my children in my estate plan?

The Louisiana estate planning process is highly customizable. You may choose to incorporate or omit specific legal documents. There are no rules regarding the issue. You can also decide how to distribute your assets, especially inheritance that you might want to give to your children. While the law does not require you to leave an equal amount to each of your heirs, there are several issues to keep in mind if you’re considering different inheritances for each of your kids.

Data from 1995 to 2010 shows an interesting trend among estate owners aged 50 and older who left multiple children an inheritance. At least 19% more people in this group left unequal amounts to their children in 2010 than in 1995. Data also shows that at least 70% of adult siblings who quarrel about money do so over issues such as parents giving more to one sibling than another in a last will and testament.

Things to consider when executing an estate plan

The following list shows issues that may or may not be relevant in your case but are reasons many estate owners cite as to why they chose to give unequal inheritances to their children:

  • Some adult children have families to support while others are single.
  • One child might have special needs or extenuating circumstances in life.
  • People sometimes choose to vary amounts when there are stepchildren or adopted children in a family, in addition to biological heirs.
  • A parent may want to leave more money to an adult child who was his or her caretaker.
  • Some parents determine inheritance based on how close of a bond they had with each of their children.

This is a controversial topic with people who support and oppose the idea of unequal inheritance on both sides of the issue. When you’re considering how to arrange your estate plan, you must ask yourself whether “equal” and “fair” are synonymous. Some people think that, to be fair, an inheritance must be equal. Others disagree. You’ll want to determine where you stand on the issue before executing a last will and testament.

Possible downsides of an unequal inheritance

It’s understandable that a parent might hope that his or her children will maintain close and loving relationships with one another after the parent dies. In fact, issues such as an unequal inheritance often spark contentious sibling rivalries, some which create a permanent rift between family members.

However, if you feel strongly that an unequal inheritance is the path you wish to take when executing your estate plan, you may want to seek legal support for guidance on how to prepare your children ahead of time and help them avoid disputes when the time comes to administer your estate.