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The impact of playing favorites with an estate

Estate planning is critical for people of any age in Florida and around the country. Having a clear plan in place can prevent discontent from brewing between family members. However, it is important that the children of the deceased get to share in the wealth when that person passes. If one child gets 80 percent of the money and the other children are left to split the rest, they may wonder why they were given such a small stake.

There are valid reasons why one child may get more money than another child. For example, one sibling may be disabled and need extra money to pay for his or her care. Parents often withhold money or assets from children if they are addicted to drugs or refuse to go to school. Trusts can be designed to have incentive clauses in them. These clauses allow children to earn more of their inheritance by doing specific things such as going to college or overcoming their drug addiction.

While children may understand on an intellectual level why they are not getting as much as other members of the family, it may be hard to deal with on an emotional level. Parents also need to consider that relationships with children who are not equally included in the will could be strained.

The distribution of assets among heirs should be as equitable as possible. Leaving certain heirs out of the will or giving them a smaller share of an estate could lead to legal issues down the road. However, a will is meant to execute the wishes of the person who is deceased. Therefore, an estate planning attorney may be able to help you get your affairs in order while you still have the mental and physical capacity to do so.

Source: Private Wealth, "Playing Favorites", Caren Chesler, January 07, 2014

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