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Unequal bequests can lead to estate disputes

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2021 | Estate Planning |

Unequal bequests may create all manner of issues for a family after a parent’s passing, including increasing the odds of an estate dispute. When one person gets less than their siblings or other members of the will, they don’t always take it well. The perception of inequality can be difficult for them to deal with, even if they don’t technically need the money.

Most of the time, siblings do get equal bequests, especially from a historic perspective, though there has been a slight shift to more inequality in recent years. Why has this happened?

Parents may disinherit one child

One reason for unequal questions is when a parent wants to essentially cut one child out of the will. For instance, perhaps that child has a history of drug addiction and the parent figures they will spend all of their inheritance on illegal activity, so they leave them out. In other cases, parents and children are estranged and so the parent leaves assets to the children he or she still has contact with.

One child may need more

Often, the inequality isn’t malicious. It’s just practical. The parent knows that one child has greater needs than the other.

For instance, one child may be unemployed and living at home, while the other has their own home and a job where they bring in six figures annually. The parents may decide to leave most of their estate to the child who lives at home — not because they love them more, but because that child needs more financial assistance.

When disputes arise

Of course, even the best of intentions could lead to a dispute. The child who has a successful career may feel that they’re being punished for their success, for instance, or they may accuse the sibling who lives at home of using undue influence to get more for themselves. This can cause a serious rift between the two heirs and may lead to a dispute that winds up in court.

If this happens, it’s crucial for all who are involved to know what legal options they have. There is a lot of wealth on the line, and they need a proper resolution.