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My Kids Are So Different – How Do I Plan My Estate?


My Kids Are So Different – How Do I Plan My Estate?

This month my wife is on a two-week (actually 16 day) trip to South Africa, and Daddy (that’s me) is on duty right now. Her absence has me thinking about estate planning as it relates to children.

When your children are young, it makes sense to divide your estate equally among them. However, as your kids get older and reach their 20s and 30s, you may discover that one child is more financially responsible than another. How does this affect your estate plan?

When creating your estate plan and deciding how your property and assets should be divided after you die, consider the following factors:

  • Caregiver — What if one child stuck around to take care of you later in life while your other children moved away? You may want to leave more to him or her since he or she sacrificed part of their life to take care of you.
  • Life situations — One child may be a single lawyer with few expenses while the other may have a large family to support on a modest salary. Should both children receive the same amount?
  • Younger children may need more support — Is there a drastic age disparity between your children? You may have older children who are independent adults and a younger child who is just broaching adulthood.
  • Trust protection – Ask yourself these questions: Are your children in rocky marriages? Are they in high risk professions? Are your children bad at handling money? Should my children receive their shares outright or would it be better to for them to receive their shares in a trust that will help protect them from themselves/divorce/creditors?

At the end of the day, no matter how you structure your plan, one thing is certain: you must inform your children — you do not want them surprised by your estate plan. In my experience, siblings are so distraught over the outcome of a will, they often seek a will contest when it could have been avoided by a conversation during the testator’s lifetime. The last thing you want as a parent is to have your children fighting over your will after you die.

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