It used to be much more common for people to leave the exact same amount of assets to all of their beneficiaries. But there has been a trend in recent years where unequal bequests are becoming more and more common. People are splitting up their assets in ways that they believe are fair or reasonable, but not in ways that are definitively equal.
In some cases, they do this because they want to disinherit someone who they think will waste the inheritance. In other cases, parents may just be estranged from some of their direct heirs, so they will leave them different assets than children to whom they’re closer.
But there are also positive reasons for these unequal bequests. A parent may have an adult child who is financially successful, for example. They will decide not to leave that child anything because they know they don’t need it, and so they will leave the money to other children who are struggling financially.
What problems can this cause?
Whether it’s done for a positive or a negative reason, unequal bequests can lead to some complications. For one thing, they tend to increase the odds of an estate dispute. An adult child who has been left less money than his or her siblings is more likely to contest the will. They may allege that the will is fraudulent, for instance, saying that the other children altered it or used undue influence to get more for themselves.
As such, when doing estate planning, it’s quite important for people to know about all the legal options they have to ensure that the estate plan holds up.