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When parents leave children unequal inheritances

On Behalf of | May 9, 2023 | ESTATE PLANNING - Estate Administration & Probate

The unequal inheritances for children is a controversial and sensitive issue for Illinois families. While some parents choose to distribute their assets equally among their children, others may divide their estate unequally, leaving more to one child than another. There are various reasons parents may choose to do so, however, it is essential for parents to carefully consider the implications of such decisions and communicate openly with their children to avoid potential conflicts and hurt feelings.

Reasons for leaving unequal inheritances

One reason for leaving unequal inheritances is financial need. Some children may have greater financial needs than others, such as those who have incurred significant debts or who have disabilities that require ongoing care. In such cases, parents may feel that providing more financial support to the child who needs it most is appropriate.

Another reason is the level of responsibility a child has taken on in caring for the parents. For example, suppose one child has taken on the primary caregiving responsibilities for aging parents. In that case, the parents may feel that providing that child with a larger inheritance is the fair thing to do.

Life circumstances can also play a role in decisions regarding estate planning. Suppose one child has chosen a high-paying career while another has struggled to find stable employment. In that case, parents may feel that it is appropriate to provide more financial support to the child with more modest resources.

Dealing with potential drawbacks

Unequal inheritance distributions can create resentment and conflict among siblings, even if the reasons behind them seem fair. Children who feel that they have been treated unfairly may experience feelings of anger and betrayal, which can strain family relationships.

To minimize the potential for conflict, parents should be transparent with their children about their intentions. They should clearly explain the reasons behind their decisions and be prepared to listen to their children’s concerns and opinions. In some cases, it may be helpful to bring in a third party, such as a financial planner or mediator, to facilitate communication and ensure that all parties are heard.

Another important consideration is the potential for legal challenges to unequal inheritances. Children who feel that they have been unfairly treated may choose to contest their parents’ wills, which can result in lengthy and costly legal battles.

Navigating difficult estate planning decisions

Leaving unequal inheritances to children is a decision that should be made carefully and with consideration of potential consequences. Open communication between all parties can help reduce resentment by offering the reasoning behind the unequal distribution.