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Estate planning | Distributing inheritances to your kids

Distributing your assets once you pass away is a difficult topic to address. California parents are often afraid their kids will think it is a sign of favoritism if they leave more to one child than to another. Worse, parents worry the children who receive less may think they are less loved. The worry is for good cause as this is often the case with children who do not receive an equal share of their parent's property.

For these reasons, many parents take the easy road and simply decide to distribute everything equally among all of the children. However, what is an easy solution for you may not always be in the best interests of your children. There are actually several good reasons to distribute the family property unevenly. Here are some examples.

-- One or more children have special needs and may require more assets to live comfortably

-- One child may have played a valuable role in the development and success of a family business while the other children did not

-- The parents may have already helped one child with major purchases such as a home or an education

-- One child may be struggling with his or her career or other important life goals

Even with good reason that is well-explained in your estate planning documents, uneven inheritances could lead to trouble down the road. Your children may end up contesting your will or otherwise fighting bitterly over the estate.

You will not be around to moderate these disputes, but you may be able to stop them before they occur. Consider speaking with your children about your decisions and why you have made them. In many cases, your estate planning lawyer can be present at such discussions and give you and your kids the moral support to better understand why you have made certain distribution decisions.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Deciding how to split inheritance among your children," Tim Grant, accessed June 17, 2016

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