As a parent with two or more kids, you know that it is possible to love your children equally while understanding that they have different needs. An important part of parenting in a family with multiple children involves finding the right ways to support and love each child according to their unique needs.
At no time will your decision to individualize the approach to your children produce more dramatic results than when it comes to your estate plan or last will. It may seem like common sense to leave more resources behind for your child with special needs compared to their two siblings without any special needs.
However, doing so puts you at risk for anger from your other children and also increases the risk of your estate facing a challenge by one of your heirs. What should you do when you have already decided that you want to unequally divide the assets you leave behind?
Look at the long-term picture when deciding what is best for your family
Planning your estate when your children have moved out and started their careers can make you think that one of your children is much better situated than the other. As an executive, your one child may command a higher wage than their sibling who works as an accountant.
However, it is also possible for things to change dramatically in the future for either or both of your kids. That accountant could marry into a very wealthy family or the child working as an executive could suffer a head injury in a car crash that ends their career.
Temporary circumstances, especially when dependent on a job or a spouse, may not be the best thing to base your estate plan on. However, long-term issues, such as special needs or a history of addiction, likely should affect how you plan. In some cases, the creation of a trust as part of your estate plan can help protect beneficiaries from common mistakes or their own vices after receiving an inheritance.
Talk to your family about your plans and your reasoning
Siblings may respect and understand that you leave more to their sister with special needs so that she can be more independent and require less from them after you die. The same could be true for heirs in a wide range of situations, as long as they understand your reasoning and intentions.
Getting a shock during the reading of the last will can easily lead to anger and then a challenge in court that never needed to happen. If you talk openly with your children about your intentions and your plan, they will be less likely to become angry and fight during the administration of your estate.