When Less Than Equal Is Fair: What to Consider When Dividing Your Estate

If you're like most people, you think that you need to divide your estate evenly among your children. But, that's not necessarily the case. Before you divide your estate, you actually need to consider certain things. If your children are all on equal footing with each other, then it would seem natural to divide your estate equally. However, if there are significant differences between your children, it would be fitting to divide the estate accordingly. If you're not sure how to address the differences, it's best to work with an estate lawyer. Your estate lawyer can help you address differences like the ones described below. 

1. Your Children Have Different Maturity Levels

If you have a large estate to divide, you might want to consider the maturity levels of your children. This is especially true if you're worried that one of your children might get into trouble with a large sum of money. One way to avoid misusing funds would be to limit the amount of money you leave to one of your children. Another way would be to place funds in a trust. That way, funds can only be released a little at a time. 

2. Your Children Have Different Financial Needs

If you're trying to divide your assets, and your children are all on equal maturity levels, consider their financial needs. Older children are often self-sufficient by the time their parents pass away. If your adult children are all self-sufficient it makes sense to divide your estate evenly. But, if one of your adult children would benefit from additional financial assistance from you, consider dividing your assets up in their favor. 

3. Your Children Have Different Marital Statuses

If you're finalizing your estate plan, and you need to divide your assets among your adult children, consider their personal lives. In particular, consider the status of their marriages. If all of your adult children are happily married, consider dividing your estate evenly. But, if one of your children is having marital problems, and you're worried that they may lose their inheritance in a divorce, consider other options. One way would be to put their portion of the estate into a protected trust. Another way would be to invest their portion of the estate into a life insurance policy. In most states, proceeds from life insurance policies are not considered community property. 

4. Your Children Have Different Dependency Needs 

Finally, if you're in the process of creating your estate plan, and you want to divide your estate fairly, consider the dependency needs of your adult children. If one of your adult children will require continued care after you pass, as may be the case for mental or physical disabilities, you may need to resort to an uneven distribution of your assets. 

For more insight, contact law services like Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh PLLC.