This year has not turned out as anyone would have anticipated, which has led many people to think about their own plans for the future and the future of their heirs. When parents have more than one child, they should take great care in deciding how to divide their assets among their children through either a will or a trust.
A sensible approach to the division of assets is to split all assets equally among siblings, to avoid sibling rivalry. However, an equal distribution may not actually be “fair” if, for instance, the parents gave more money to one sibling than another in the past during that child’s time of need. If one child is more successful and has more money than another, the less wealthy sibling may also see an even split as unfair from a standpoint of who “needs” the money more.
Parents may be hesitant to discuss their estate plan with their kids, but such discussions can often be fruitful. For instance, parents may find out that one sibling is fine with receiving a smaller amount of money so long as he or she receives some other item of property in exchange, like a specific family heirloom. Parents and children can also discuss how the children plan to divide a family home, to ensure everyone is on the same page. If siblings are going to quarrel over whether to keep a house or to sell it for proceeds, that is something that could be useful to know and prepare for when creating a trust fund.
It is always a good time to start planning how to distribute assets to one’s children. A probate and estate planning attorney can help someone decide whether to create a will or trust, as well as how to allocate assets.