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Contact with children leads to unequal bequests

Thinking of leaving unequal bequests to your children? This simply means splitting up the estate in a way that does not leave the exact assets to everyone. Suppose you have three children and $900,000. Instead of giving them all $300,000, you leave half of the estate to your firstborn and leave the remainder split between the other two.

Many parents do not do this, but it is becoming more common. One reason that it happens, experts believe, is that parents have more contact with some children than others.

One example is a parent who gets married and has children. They then get divorced and remarried and have a second family. Even with custody rights to the children from the first marriage, they may split their time between both parents' homes. The children from the second marriage, meanwhile, live with that parent all the time. That increased contact can lead the parent to leave them more money in a will or an estate plan.

Contact also changes as children grow into adults and move around the country. If one child takes a job in Michigan and just comes home for Christmas, while the other gets a job in Fullerton and lives just a mile away, the parent may favor the child who is around more. As the parents age, that child may also end up taking care of them, and they may give out unequal bequests to make up for this care.

Regardless of the reason, these unequal situations can get a bit complex and may lead to confrontations, so it's important for those involved to know their legal rights.

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