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33 percent of parents leave unequal bequests

Surprising new research shows that unequal bequests are growing more and more common with the decades. Now, it looks like about 33 percent of parents -- one out of every three -- do not use equal distribution when leaving money and assets to their heirs.

This can lead to many estate disputes. Children often expect things to be equal, and seeing a brother or sister get more than them may send them to court.

So, why do parents do this, knowing that it could cause fights between their children after they pass away? While all situations are different, some common reasons include the following:

  • Divorce is common, as is remarriage, meaning that many parents have stepchildren. These stepchildren are less likely to be included to the same degree as a family made up of only biological children.
  • Aging parents often need assistance and care as they grow older. The kids who provide it may get more in the will than those who are not around to help out, as a way of compensating them.
  • Some studies have shown that parents who are not very well off are more likely to cut out kids they no longer talk to or stepchildren, whereas the wealthy often include everyone.

These are just three reasons, but they help show why parents may feel that their decision is fair and just, even if the amounts being left to the kids are not equal. Siblings may disagree; for instance, one sibling may contend that the sibling caring for aging parents used undue influence to change the will in his or her favor. When these estate disputes begin, all parties must know their legal rights.

Source: Squared Away, "More Parents Split Bequests Unequally," accessed June 08, 2018

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