ESTATE PLANNING THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “I Ieave everything to my children in equal shares.” Why it might not always be the best idea.

It is understandable that parents typically want to treat all of their children equally when preparing an estate plan. However, all children are not created equal. One may be self-sufficient, even wealthy, and not need an inheritance. Another may not be able to manage money for one reason or another. Another child might have a drug or other addiction problems. In such examples, parents need to work with their estate planning attorney to create a plan that takes care of each individual child according to his or her needs.

Another common problem is the large family. If you have seven (7) children and leave your house to them equally in your estate planning documents, heartache is likely to follow. How can seven (7) people own a house? Is it likely that all seven (7) will agree on how to maintain or sell the property? Well, if you do not leave the house to specific individuals with specific instructions in a Will or Trust, then, in Florida, (without a Will or Trust) your assets will be left equally to your children. This can turn a house the children used to love into a house of tears. Even if you want to have all of the children benefit equally from the sale of your house, you would be wise to consider leaving the house in trust, with one of the children in charge, with instructions to distribute the proceeds equally. If seven (7) children have to unanimously decide to sell a house (or do most anything to maintain it), you are asking for trouble. So, please stop and think before saying “I want to leave everything to my children equally.”

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