Your Guide to Funeral Planning | 09.19.2023

How to Manage Unequal Inheritances in a Will

How to Manage Unequal Inheritances in a Will


Cross Checked By: SCOTT GINSBERG

Drafting a will is one of the many important aspects of estate planning. As you get older, it is important to focus on estate planning, especially if you have more than one child. Preparing a will while you’re still alive will let you sort out any potential differences that may arise between your children, especially if there’s an unequal distribution of inheritance in the will. Since unequal inheritance, more often than not, leads to hurt feelings, bitterness, and resentment, knowing how to manage the situation properly is key. 

How to manage unequal inheritances in a will?

If you’re planning to leave unequal inheritances to your children, it is important to ensure that their feelings are not hurt. This will help avoid potential conflict between your children. Here are a few ways through which you can manage unequal inheritances in your will. 

  • Communicate your plan openly: Consider discussing your plan of assigning unequal inheritances to your children before you set out to draft a will. Being open with the ones involved can make them feel noticed and appreciated, and may even help them understand the situation better.  
  • Provide an honest and clear explanation: Once you’ve communicated your plan of unequal inheritances in your will, the next step is to be honest and provide your children with a clear explanation as to why you plan to do so. In addition to hosting a family meeting, also consider having a one-on-one conversation with each of your children. This simple exercise can eliminate potential misunderstandings, conflicts, and hurt feelings. 
  • Take a personalized approach: One of the best ways to mitigate feelings of inequality as far as unequal inheritances are concerned is to take a deeply personalized approach when dividing your wealth. You can tailor the distribution of inheritance to your children’s specific situations, such as their financial needs, existing wealth, or unique circumstances. This acknowledges each child’s individuality whilst minimizing conflict between them. 
  • Use conditional bequests: Another way to manage unequal inheritances in a will is to use conditions bequests when dividing your wealth among your children. For instance, if you’re assigning a larger inheritance to one of your children, you could consider inserting a clause in your will that stipulates that the inheritance is contingent upon a beneficiary's completion of education or achievement of a specific goal. This can encourage personal growth and provide an incentive for your children to work towards their objectives.
  • Consider mediation: Finding common ground through family meetings or one-on-one conversations may not always work. In such situations, you could consider mediation through a third party, like an estate planner or a mediator. Such professionals are trained to facilitate discussions to resolve conflicts and disputes within the family. 

Leaving behind an unequal inheritance is not as uncommon as you might think. In fact, according to a study, as much as 35% of individuals chose to leave an unequal inheritance to their children as of 2010. If you’re also planning to take such a measure, you should know that the most important thing is to be open, transparent, and honest with your family members. 

Letting your family in on the discussion and ensuring that they understand your reasons for not distributing your wealth equally can go a long way in preventing avoidable misunderstandings and even litigation. Remember, leaving behind unequal inheritances is not only tough on the children but also on the parents, even if the reasons for such a decision are fair and just.  

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