Houser Firm

Can you leave unequal bequests?

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2022 | Estate Planning

You’re creating your estate plan, and you decide that you don’t want to leave the same amount of money or assets to all of your heirs. Perhaps you believe some of them won’t use the money responsibly. Maybe you are estranged, or you’ve had a falling out. For whatever reason, you’d like to use unequal bequests.

The first thing you should know is that you can certainly do this if you would like. There’s no legal requirement that you give all of your beneficiaries even remotely equal amounts of money. You have full reign to decide how you would like to divide your assets, and you can leave more or less to certain beneficiaries as you see fit.

In fact, studies have found that this is becoming more and more common. Back in 1995, for instance, only about 16% of parents said they would leave unequal amounts of money to their children. Fifteen years later, in 2010, that had risen to 35%. If this trend continues, it could someday become the norm.

Are there any problems?

One thing to consider is that leaving unequal requests can cause problems for your children. In some cases, it can just cause resentment between adult children who believe they weren’t treated fairly and hold that against one another. But it can also increase the odds of a legal estate dispute if the person who did receive less decides they want to challenge the will.

What this means is that it is very important to think carefully about all of the steps you’ll need to take to reduce the odds of conflict and accomplish your goals.