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Assets do not have to be divided equally in estate planning

Although parents usually love all of their children equally, their children are not always equal in their financial positions. There may be one adult child that is more established financially than his or her siblings. When this is the case, California parents sometimes make estate planning choices that are fair but not necessarily equal.

Many times parents distribute their assets equally among their children. However, parents may want to consider the details of each child's circumstances when making plans for the distribution of their estate. One adult child may have a lower income or more family members to support. Therefore, a parent may want to leave more assets to this child than to a more financially secure child.

Other times, the role an adult child plays in helping the parents may be taken into consideration when dividing assets in an estate plan. If a child decides to assist in caring for aging parents, the parents may decide to compensate the child by leaving a larger inheritance in exchange for the care received. Another example would be if an adult child is a part of a family business and has been working without compensation. In cases like this, parents may want to leave the entire family business to the child who has been involved in running the business.

On the other hand, besides deciding how to divide assets between children, there are various other concerns that may warrant attention when making estate planning decisions in California. As every person's estate planning goals are different, each estate plan will require the use of different legal instruments. Therefore, it is best to customize every estate plan to fit a particular individual's situation.

Source:, "Fair doesn't mean equal in estate planning", Carissa Giebel, April 27, 2015

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