Equal Division Versus Fair Division

January 15, 2020

When working with clients on estate planning issues, most parents attempt to ensure their estate planning efforts end up providing for the children in a fair, equitable manner. Oftentimes, this however, is a result of an experienced attorney pointing out that equal is not always fair.

For example, if you have three children and all three of them have graduated from college (you paid for all of their tuition) and they all have jobs/income generated from neutral employers, then it makes sense to leave your assets to all three children equally. In that situation, equal is fair.

What happens though if two of your children have completed college and your third child starts college next year? If you pass away and leave everything to each child equally. Does the third child use the inheritance to pay for college? That may not seem fair.

If you own a family business and not all of the children are involved, that can be especially tricky in ensuring that each child receives a fair inheritance. This situation will most often involve some strategic business succession planning in tandem with personal estate planning.

What if one of the children lives close by and provided years of caregiving while another gave neither time nor money towards parental care? What about the family home? What if one child wants to live in it and the others prefer to liquidate the asset?

There are many things to consider when attempting to divide your estate fairly between your heirs. Experienced estate planning attorneys know how to ask the right questions to help you think through different scenarios. This type of brainstorming leads to estate planning results that end up fair rather than equal. For more information, contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area.

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