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Unequal Gifting More Common, Study Says

Increasingly, clients are turning to estate planning lawyers to help with the process of gifting unequal shares or assets to their children. There are several different reasons why a parent today might look to outline these kinds of specifics in an estate plan, but it’s also happening at the same time when family conflict poses the biggest threat to a successful plan.

The study, from Merrill Lynch, found that parents who have more than one child are at least considering leaving unequal shares. According to that study, two-thirds of Americans believe that an uneven split is likely more in line with current family dynamics.

Sometimes it’s the concern about a child’s spouse and how those assets could be affected through a divorce. In other cases, the parent believes that one child is a spendthrift and the other is more responsible. With a family business or cherished family home, geographic location and desire might factor into the decision, too.  

An unequal inheritance can raise red flags, depending on how or if the parent communicates their intentions. For example, another study found that when it came to siblings who argued over money in their adult lives, over 70% of the time the root cause was the way that an inheritance was divided. Those children who did not receive what they felt were equal shares have chimed in with other research projects about how unfair it was.

You have to choose a model that works to address your concerns and goals for your assets and your loved ones. In this case, fair does not always mean equal.

If you’re trying to decide what’s right for your family, talking to an attorney can help you to clarify some of your individual goals in the estate planning process. No matter how you want to split up your assets, tactics in an estate planning and asset protection planning toolkit can become an important component of defining your legacy.

 

 



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