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Creating equality in estate planning outcomes

From the time children are small, parents strive to assure each child that he or she is loved just as much as the other children in the household. Philadelphia parents will address issues of equality throughout the time that children grow from toddlers into adulthood and often even beyond that threshold. When it comes to estate planning, equality often remains a priority. The reality, however, is that achieving complete equality is never really a possibility.

Consider a family in which there are three adult children. One child went to an expensive private college, while the other earned a scholarship and earned a degree at a state school. The third child struggles with addiction issues and has been placed in rehab facilities on several occasions. All three children have received assistance from their parents over the years at varying levels.

In this scenario, the fact is that these three children have not been treated equally. Furthermore, there is nothing malicious or uncaring about the inequality that they have faced, which was largely due to their own life choices. When it comes to inheritance, these factors should be taken into consideration.

Some parents will decide to simply split their assets into equal portions and leave each child the same volume of wealth. Others will choose to leave more to the child or children with the greatest level of financial need. Still other families will try to work out a complex formula that accounts for the help that has already been given and then leave an inheritance that reflects that generosity. This example shows how difficult it can be to achieve equality within estate planning. Philadelphia families who want to pursue this goal should meet with an estate planning attorney to discuss the best way to hand down wealth to the next generation.  

Source:, "Being fair in estate planning", Karin Price Mueller, Jan. 4, 2016

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