Unequal treatment when crafting an estate plan


Assets remaining in your North Carolina estate will be transferred to beneficiaries after you die. A common strategy is to declare that your kids or grandkids get an equal share of your estate. You could also put assets into a trust that can be distributed in whatever fashion you’d like.

Inheritances don’t have to be equal

You don’t need to treat all of your children, siblings or other beneficiaries equally after you pass. However, if you plan to leave unequal inheritances, it may be a good idea to discuss why you have chosen to do so. This may help to soothe hurt feelings or at least keep conflicts at bay until after you pass.

Why you might forego equality

You might decide that your oldest children don’t need as much help as your younger children since they are already established. It’s also possible that you promised to pay for college, a down payment on their home or other milestone expenses that your younger children may incur that you have already covered for your older kids. In that scenario, your estate planning goals promote equality among your children even if they don’t all receive the same thing when you pass.

Consider what your beneficiaries want

It’s possible that your beneficiaries won’t want the expensive house or your fancy car collection. Instead, they may want your video game collection or other items that have sentimental value. One child may also insist that another receive a more valuable asset because the other child needs it more.

Regardless of why you construct an estate plan in a certain way, it’s important to understand that your choices are valid. As long as your will or trust is structured in accordance with state law, it will be recognized by the courts and should withstand a legal challenge. Ideally, you’ll review your plan regularly to ensure it meets your needs as events unfold.