All parents know that not all of their children are the same. Some children just need more care and support than other children. Most parents do not try to treat their children the same. Instead, parents try to treat their children equitably. When it comes to estate planning, this often means that one child receives a larger share of the estate than another child. This can create problems between the children if the parents do not handle the situation appropriately.
In some cases, it is easy to explain to children who will receive a smaller portion of the estate than another child why the parents have arranged things that way. For example, if one child is disabled, the other children should be able to understand why more money is needed for that child’s continued care. However, in other cases it is far more difficult to explain. To avoid conflicts between children, parents should only give an unequal distribution when there is a compelling reason to do so that the parents can articulate to the children.
The most important thing that parents can do if they are going to leave their children unequal portions of their estate is to communicate with their children ahead of time and tell the children why. This will help resolve any conflicts that might come about later.