Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Treating Children Unequally in Your Will

More often than one may predict, I find myself advising clients on how to handle their desire to treat children unequally in a will. Whether it be because one child received extra assistance (i.e. money to start a business) or if a child has provided significant care to the parent without compensation - it is not that uncommon for parents to vary the distribution to children in a will.

The New York Times ran an article titled "Learning to Share" by David Cay Johnston in September 2008. He wrote:

Unequal distributions, however sensible they may seem to parents, often dredge up sibling rivalries. Claims that a favored child exercised undue influence over a parent, especially an aged parent, can find their way to the courthouse, where defending the will takes its toll through legal fees.
If you are thinking about treating your children unequally in your will, I recommend you read his article and consider his suggestion -- approaching the kids while you are still alive. Especially those with a smaller share.

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