Is it possible to be fair in estate planning?

On behalf of Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, P.C. posted in Estate Planning on Jan 15, 2016.

For many Pennsylvania families, the top priority in structuring an estate plan is to create a fair distribution of wealth down to the next generation. This is an admirable goal, but one that is troublesome in practice. Achieving equality assumes that one’s adult children are equal in all measures, which is almost never the case. In order to create an estate planning solution that is in line with the goal of equality, it is necessary to take a close look at the matter.

Parents must consider how their adult children have already benefited from parental financial support. For example, children who attend college often receive help from their parents, whether in tuition payments or expenses. A child who earns a scholarship to a state school is likely to need far less financial support than one who chooses to attend a costly private university. A child who chooses an education in a more hands-on field such as carpentry or construction may have required almost no financial support.

The same goes for other significant expenses where parents have provided support. A lavish wedding will cost far more than a simpler affair, and eloping will cost virtually nothing. Some children will be given help on a down payment for a home, while others are content to travel and rent their homes. Parents must take these factors into consideration when working out inheritance plans.

For those in Pennsylvania who want to truly achieve equality in their estate plans, these and other issues deserve careful consideration. Working with an estate planning attorney is the best way to ensure that the final outcome is in line with the goal of treating each child equally. Equitable distribution may be a difficult outcome to achieve, but it is a goal that many parents firmly believe in and are eager to pursue.

Source: nj1015.com, “Being fair in estate planning“, Karin Price Mueller, Jan. 4, 2016