The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

Ever Think of Leaving Unequal Inheritances to Your Adult Kids?

POSTED ON: June 8, 2020

Of course, the easiest plan is to leave your adult kids equal amounts of inheritance. That way, there are no misunderstandings or bad feelings. But is that what you really want to do?

According to a recent study by Merrill Lynch and Age of Wave of older adults age 55 and up, parents leaving an inheritance to more than one child think it’s appropriate to consider leaving their children different amounts depending on the circumstance. So, what are some reasons why parents might leave more assets to one adult child than another?

  • Nearly one in four of those surveyed indicated that an adult child who has children deserves more money than an adult child who doesn’t have kids.
  • 67% of people who took part in the study said that if one adult child steps in to be the caregiver of an aging parent, they deserve more than the other child.
  • 40% of study participants with blended families don’t believe that stepchildren should be treated the same as biological or adopted children.
  • One adult child might just be in greater need of money based on their occupation. For example, one could be a teacher while the other is a doctor.
  • A child with special needs requires more help than another sibling.

The problem is when adult siblings do fight about money, one of the main issues is how an inheritance is divided (Ameriprise Study). So, should you or shouldn’t you leave more to one child than another?

The bottom line is that you have the right to distribute your assets the way you want. An inheritance is a gift, not a right. If you do choose to leave more to one adult child than another, the best path to take is to sit down with your children and explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Have an open discussion with them, so they can ask questions to fully understand what you’re thinking. Your goal isn’t to treat anyone unfairly, it’s just to do your best to make sure all your children are taken care of.