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Communication Can Help with Unequal Distributions

Adult children typically believe that their parents will leave all their assets to them equally however it is not unusal in our estate planning business to see clients who want to give unequal distributions to their children, leave gifts to friends or a favorite charity – even disinherit a child. Unequal distributions may be because they have already helped to support or educate one of their children or feel that one of their children has a spendthrift issue, or a variety of other reasons. We also see instances when a parent has remarried and wants to leave assets to his or her current spouse and is afraid that the children will not understand. Some people think a failure to be provided for in their parent’s will or trust is a sign of an absence of love.

According to an article in the New York Times talking to your children about your plans before you die can significantly lessen the chance that they will challenge your estate plan after you die. The kids may get angry at the situation but their anger will be directed at you, not at the favored beneficiaries after your death. The article quotes Gerald Le Van, a wealth mediator, who says that the children and grandchildren may not like what you have chosen to do, but at least they can feel like they were informed and hopefully will respect your wishes.Communication can also help relieve the tension between the adult children of a first marriage and the children and/or spouse of the second marriage.

One of the richest men in the nation, Warren Buffet, has provided education for his children and grandchildren but intends to leave his vast estate to charity. His family is well aware of his estate plan.

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