Dollars & Sense - Estate Planning Made Simple

Siblings who have had loving relationships can become embittered towards each other if one feels that Mom or Dad’s Will wasn’t fair when dividing up the estate. Some parents will completely disinherit one child. By doing so they’re guaranteeing that child will hold bitter memories towards that parent and the other family members. Instead, leave something to him or her and when doing so, don’t use hurtful language that will be remembered forever. If you really feel one child needs more than their brothers or sisters it’s better to leave a smaller but equal portion to all your children and put the rest of your estate in Trust. The Trust can then make distribution to the needier child with the permission of the other siblings. At some point in the future when the less fortunate child’s financial needs have lessened, the Trust can be distributed equally among the siblings. Naming one brother or sister to dole out money to the other is probably also a mistake. It’s better to split your estate equally and place the money in separate Trusts. The terms of the Trusts can be designed differently. For personal assets, make a list and ask each child to identify the top five items they want in order of preference. Use this as a guide for deciding who gets what item. Without this information you might mistakenly divide your assets according to each item’s monetary worth and disregard any emotional value. Doing it this way can help in reducing friction.

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