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Scenarios where an unequal inheritance may make sense

On Behalf of | Sep 16, 2023 | Estate Administration

If you possess significant assets in New Jersey and are planning your estate, one of the most pressing concerns is likely how you’ll bequeath your assets to your children and descendants. This is a decision that involves significant thought, as family relationships might be significantly affected by your choices.

The calculation is simple in some cases – Each child or descendant receives an equal amount. But estate planning can be more complicated for a variety of reasons. And in those scenarios, it’s worth considering how to approach this subject.

When unequal inheritance may make sense

Sometimes, the most significant asset in an inheritance might be a family business. And in those circumstances, sometimes one child runs the family business while the other has gone on to another profession or pursuit. In this situation, you may leave the family business to the involved child and other assets to the other children.

Other times, the issue will be differing means. One child may be significantly more wealthy than another, and you may wish to leave more to the less well-off child than the more wealthy one.

And finally, you may wish to make a large bequeathal to a charity or cause that’s larger than what you plan to leave to your heirs.

How to approach unequal inheritance

If you plan on leaving unequal inheritances to your heirs, communication is the key to preventing bad blood or hurt feelings. Make a point to speak to your children well in advance to explain the situation and your intentions.

Do your utmost to explain your reasoning, and assure any children receiving a lesser share that this has absolutely nothing to do with you having lesser feelings for them.

By being proactive about describing your intentions and reasoning behind them, you’ll avoid your heirs finding out about it during the immediate aftermath of your passing, an already stressful time when emotions are naturally heightened.

In some circumstances, leaving an unequal inheritance may best accord with your wishes for your estate. If so, it behooves you to communicate in advance with your heirs to lessen the chance of discord and hurt feelings.