Creating a will that gives uneven shares to adult children often leads to bitter questions, disappointment, and ultimately, disharmony in the family. The reasons for giving one child more (or less) money in a will may not be as clear cut to the children as it was for their parents. A recent article posted on aarp.org offers some tips on leaving a fair will:
1. If you’re not leaving equal shares, tell the kids what you’re doing and why. You could opt to call for a family meeting, speak to them one at a time, or even involve them in the decision-making process – the important thing is that they are apprised of your intentions. Often these kinds of discussions bring up things that you have not considered yet.
2. If you can’t bring yourself to talk about unequal shares, at least leave a letter with your will, explaining your decision. Be sure that the letter is compassionate and addresses all the questions your children may have. Saying nothing could ruin their memories of you or prompt a challenge to the will. On the flip side, the child who received the bigger amount may share it with his siblings out of guilt.
3. Wherever possible, equal shares do the trick. The 49 financial planners who gave their thoughts on this delicate issue all agreed – “Equal inheritances help maintain family harmony when you’re gone.”
(Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane)