Equal and fair are not synonyms.
Do you have several heirs?
Have you provided varying support to each over the years?
Are some children more responsible?
Let me cut to the chase: have some of your children become adults, while others have just gotten older?
Perhaps you should consider leaving different amounts to each.
According to a recent Forbes article titled “Where Inheritance Is Concerned, Equal May Not Always Mean Fair,” simply bequeathing the same percentage to each child could leave one worse off intentionally.
One child has graduated college—paid for by you.
One child has not yet reached college age.
If you leave each an equal amount, your second child will have to use the funds on college while the first child merely gets to keep the money.
In the end, your second child has received less from you.
How can you avoid this?
You can create an irrevocable trust.
The trust allows for the money to be held and specific distribution instructions to be given.
In the above case, you could instruct the trust to divide the assets equally only after the trust has funded the college for the second child.
Instead of having the trust distribute all of its property to the child or children, you could make the child or children trustees over their own respective shares.
What would this do?
It would allow the heir to make distributions to himself or herself while affording asset protection through spendthrift provisions.
As you can tell, things can get a little complicated pretty fast.
Trusts should not be attempted on your own.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a plan specific to your needs and goals.
An experienced estate planning attorney can build a trust to hold your home, business and other significant assets while protecting them from legal complications like divorce or creditors.
So, how do you find an "experienced" estate planning attorney?
First, ask around. Friends, family and other professional advisors are trustworthy sources.
Second, conduct an "organic" search on "Google" for "estate planning" near you (e.g., "Estate Planning Anytown MoKan").
Third, either way, verify! Check out the education, experience, ratings and client reviews of any attorney before you contact him or her.
In fact, I use both of these services to thoroughly vett attorneys before referring members of our "client" family for legal help in other areas of law or for matters in jurisdictions outside Kansas or Missouri.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: Forbes (February 27, 2017) “Where Inheritance Is Concerned, Equal May Not Always Mean Fair”