If you have more than one child, estate planning will be more difficult. When there is just one person, you can leave them everything. Anything they do not like, they can do with as they please. Yet, when there are two or more, you need to make decisions.
What’s more, you need to make those decisions with great care. However grateful your kids should be, they may get upset over the differences in what you leave to each of them.
Can’t I just tell them to divide it equally?
Dividing things equally was most parents’ go-to solution for a long time. Yet, a 2015 report suggests that around a third of parents now choose to make an uneven split.
There are sometimes excellent reasons to do so. For instance, one child has already made their first million, while the other struggles to meet the rent. Or one child has special needs and requires expensive long-term care.
Yet the kids who get less may not see it as you do. For example, the millionaire may consider they earned their success, and you should not penalize them for working hard. Or one child may feel that however much they love their special needs sibling, they too have financial needs.
Even equal division can be problematic
The only way to divide all your assets equally is to sell every last item and split the proceeds. Otherwise, however well you try to divide things financially, your heirs could squabble over the sentimental value of things. For instance, two sisters both feel that they deserve their mom’s engagement ring or grandpa’s rocking chair.
While selling everything may be logical, reaching that stage would be a shame. Talking to your kids can help you determine if they have preferences for specific items. It also allows you to explain your choices. Doing this while alive reduces the chance your children jump to conclusions and end up fighting each other in court over your estate plan.