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Wills that leave an unequal inheritance to children

Parents spend a great deal of their lives wondering about what is best for their children. While this typically involves what school to send their children or what activities to enroll them, it also extends to how to divide their estate in a way that is fair. In fact, some parents in Georgia are creating wills that favor fairness among their children over equality.

Unfortunately, some assets are distributed unequally to children by accident. If a parent names a child a beneficiary of a retirement account, that asset will go directly through the child without going through the probate process. In some cases, the parent may have created a will that left everything equally to all children, but assets like retirement accounts go directly to the named beneficiary regardless of what a will says.

But some parents actively decide that a fair decision is actually to leave more money to certain children. This decision can arise from a variety of different scenarios. One child more be well-established in a career, making significantly more money than the other. In some cases, a child has a mental or physical disability, and the parent wants to ensure that he or she receives proper care. Additionally, a parent may change how money is distributed; for example, if one child struggles with managing money, his or her inheritance can be protected in a trust.

An estate planning attorney can help parents in Georgia determine the most appropriate split of their assets as well as ensure that any unequal distribution is a result of a conscious decision, not an oversight. Wills often require a frank conversation with beneficiaries in order to avoid hurt feelings and contention between siblings who may be receiving an unequal inheritance. Planning ahead is a step toward preserving family unity and protecting a person's estate.

Source: The New York Times, "How a Will Treating Children Differently Can Still Be Fair", Paul Sullivan, July 29, 2016

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