The Pros and Cons of Leaving Your Children with Unequal Inheritances

When parents pass away, it is understandably upsetting but can be made to feel worse when one child is left with a larger inheritance than another. In this article, we discuss the pros and cons of leaving your children with unequal inheritances.

Most children that have siblings expect to share their inheritance equally with their siblings and don’t expect to find out that one or more siblings have inherited more than themselves. But this does happen in some cases and can cause considerable issues when not discussed prior to their parent’s passing.

The problem with unequal inheritances is the possibility for contested probate to occur, where family members dispute the Will in hopes of receiving more money. For matters like these, a solicitors for probate can provide specialist assistance, including the advice and guidance needed to get through this difficult period.

Want to know the pros and cons of leaving your children with unequal inheritances? Keep reading to find out more…

Why Might Someone Leave Their Children Unequal Inheritances?

There could be many reasons why parents make the decision to leave their children unequal inheritances, from family disputes to one child needing the inheritance more than the others.

How stuff works provides an interesting and helpful article: When is it ok to leave kids unequal inheritance?

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Examples of where parents may decide to leave their children unequal inheritances include:

One Child Needs Additional Support

Being a parent isn’t easy, especially when your child has a disability or they have suffered an injury that requires them to have additional support or time away from work. There might even be scenarios where they are experiencing financial difficulty or something else entirely.

In circumstances like these, parents may feel more inclined to support that child by leaving them a more substantial inheritance. For example, leaving them the family property instead of splitting it between their children.

They No Longer Have a Relationship

While this point is understandably sad, some parents and their children don’t have a good relationship or one at all. If a parent is in this position, they may decide to leave their child with no inheritance or a smaller amount compared to what they leave to their other children.

One Child Became Their Primary Caregiver

Sometimes when you become older and less able to do tasks for yourself, you may find that one of your children becomes your primary caregiver. This could be that you move into their property, and they help you with day-to-day tasks, such as feeding you, bathing you, etc.

In response to this, you may feel like you want to reward and thank your child for their assistance during your time of need by leaving them a larger inheritance, especially if they have done this without asking you for any compensation.

They Have Both Biological Children and Step Children

Some individuals may have remarried later in life and gained step children that they wish to share their estate with. Step children are still family, and often step parents and step children have a strong relationship, but if the marriage occurred in later life, the relationship you may have with your biological children is likely different. This could mean you are more inclined to leave them with a larger inheritance.

What are the Pros of Leaving Your Children with Unequal Inheritances?

It’s easy to presume that there is no good reason for leaving your children an unequal inheritance, but in some circumstances, there are some advantages to doing so, including:

Providing Support to a Child That Needs it

If one of your children is worse financially than your other children, leaving them a higher inheritance can provide the support that they need. This could be if they are still studying, whether at school or university, or they could earn a lower salary, have a large amount of debt, or perhaps they have learning difficulties, are disabled or have an injury which is impacting them long term.

Leaving them with a larger inheritance can provide you with comfort knowing that they are sufficiently financially supported even after you pass.

couple sitting on chairs discussing inheritances
Photo by Arthur Mazi on Pexels.com

What Are the Cons of Leaving Your Children With Unequal Inheritances?

Contentious Probate

Deciding to give your children unequal inheritances without discussing it prior to your death could potentially lead to contentious probate disputes. If there is no reason as to why you have left your children an unequal inheritance, it is very likely that this is going to cause problems between your children.

Risk of Family Disputes

Unfortunately, in the waking of death, it doesn’t mean that disputes between family members don’t happen. In fact, in most circumstances, that is where they start or increase, especially when children are unhappy with the unequal inheritance they have received from their parents.

Leaving your children with unequal inheritances could potentially break up the family dynamic. So it’s important to consider what the aftermath might be before you make any big decisions.

Consider Talking to Your Children First…

What we can conclude from this article is that while many would find unequal inheritances unfair, there might be a clear reason for it. But if that is the case, make sure to talk to your children first and explain why you have made this decision, because without doing this, there is the potential for contentious probate and/or family disputes to occur.

For helpful info on leaving unequal inheritance, see here.

Let us know your thoughts on unequal inheritances in the comment box below.

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained wills and probate professional. Be sure to consult a wills and probate professional if you’re seeking advice about your will. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.

Disclosure – this is a collaborative post

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