As a parent with multiple children, you probably have unique relationships with each of your kids. No matter how carefully you try to treat them with the same amount of compassion and give them access to the same resources, your kids will invariably grow into very different human beings.
Whether through personal decisions or misfortune, one of your children may have a substantially harder or easier life than the others. You may want to consider the needs of your children carefully when deciding how to split up your property after you die.
Equal is not always fair or appropriate
For many parents planning their estate, an even split is the fastest and seemingly fairest solution available. Your children will each receive assets of roughly the same value from your estate, meaning that no one will feel left out or like you played favorites.
However, splitting what you leave behind evenly among your children may not be fair and appropriate. Did you have to spend tens of thousands of dollars helping one child defend against criminal charges in college? Did you pay for an expensive wedding for one child and not for the others? Has one of your children devoted themselves to taking over the family business or provided care to you or your spouse when you were sick?
All of these issues, as well as health concerns and behavioral issues in your children, can influence what is appropriate and fair to give each child.
The law does not require an even inheritance if you create your estate plan
If you die without a last will or an estate plan, the probate courts will probably try to split your assets evenly among your children. Other family members, such as a surviving spouse, may also have a claim to some of your property.
You don’t have to choose to do an even split of your property if you create your own estate plan. That approach is only legally compulsory if you die without a last will. Discussing your motive for wanting to leave an uneven inheritance and the strategy you think would best work for your family can help you create a solution that is reasonable and fair.