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Should you leave siblings unequal shares of your estate?

When you’re reviewing your estate plan, it’s
important to think about how to divide your estate
among your children.

While you don’t need to leave siblings equal
shares, be aware that inheriting unequal
amounts can cause arguments among
children after you pass. To avoid disagreements from the getgo,
you may want to leave your children
equal shares.

If that is your goal, remember to consider any
property or accounts you hold jointly with each
child. Jointly held property or money passes
outside of your estate. That means if you have
listed a child as a caregiver on a bank account, or
you jointly hold property with one child, it will pass to
that child alone at your death. The same rule applies
for a “pay on death” account.

If you don’t want one of your children to get a bigger
share of your estate, be sure to add a provision in your
estate plan indicating that property passing to one
child through joint tenancy is an advancement of that
child’s share.

You can also choose to leave each child a different
share. Perhaps one child has a disability and requires
more for the future, or maybe you want to give a
bigger share to a child who serves as your caregiver.
If you choose to give different amounts, include a
provision in your estate plan explaining the reason for
your choice. Make it clear that the choice was yours,
not the decision of the child receiving the larger share.

The more clearly you can explain yourself in advance
and in your documents, the better. Otherwise, one of
your children could attempt to challenge your will.
Work with an estate-planning attorney to decide
how to handle dividing an estate and to determine any
needed provisions.

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